Europe 2016: Berlin, Germany

Berlin was the very last city we visited during our trip. When I found out we would take a day trip there, I got all sorts of feels. I have heard of Berlin through text books and movies. I am certain everyone has heard of the stories as well. To me, it was very interesting and exciting to finally see this place.

We took a train ride from Hamburg to Berlin, and upon arrival, I quickly noticed how clean and crisp the place was. We walked around the Reichstag/Bundestag Building – I don’t really know which one to call it because I kept hearing both. From my understanding, each references the current occupants, but I could also be wrong. We also walked through the Brandenburg Gate, and then to the Holocaust Memorial (or Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe). Oh. My. Gosh. Inside, there were stories and pictures of victims and their families, as well as letters, postcards, and journal entries retrieved from victims and the fortunate survivors. It was horrific, sad, and the feeling inside was magnified by the realization of its actuality. Sigh.

We also saw the remains of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie. We walked around the area, and if you ever go, please be careful of the individuals who try to get your sympathy and take your money. One girl asked my sister-in-law to sign some paper that we couldn’t understand… she did not sign. But we did see the same girl and her friends go around telling tourists to sign, and then ask for money.What?! This was not only in Berlin, though, because we also saw the same thing in Paris and Rome. So, just be careful.

I must also note that I finally went to the infamous Primark! Because it was so crowded inside and I was just exhausted from the day, I decided to just park on a couch with my brother while the rest of our party shopped. My niece got some pretty neat stuff though, and I got a Mickey and Minnie “His and Hers” mug.

That basically sums up the last of my trip. We had to catch the train back to Hamburg, where we ate at Hard Rock Cafe as a last thank you dinner to our hosts.

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The “DOME”
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Brandenburg Gate!
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Within the Holocaust Memorial
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BBQ Ribs & Chicken and unlimited soda! 😛

Phew!!

As tired as I was during this trip, I would do it all over again without hesitation! It was such a blessing to have seen other parts of the world that I thought I would only see in my dreams.

Catch up: Hamburg, Vatican & Rome, Paris, Geneva, and London.

Europe 2016: London, England

I loved being in London so much, and I’m still sad that we didn’t spend more time there. There were so many things I wanted to see that we didn’t get to because there just was not enough time to do so. Yes, I am determined to go back!

Our first night there was quite a memorable one. I wish I could remember the name of the place where we ate our first meal in London because that place served some delicious chicken and the staff was friendly. After dinner, we paid 5GBP for a short bus ride to our hotel. The policeman who assisted us felt so bad that we were paying that much each, but we really didn’t have another choice. We originally had a reservation through AirBnB, but the owner of the house cancelled the day before our arrival. Finding a decent hotel for a reasonable price was a challenge, so when we got to our booked hotel, we thought, “Hey, this doesn’t look too bad!” Well, just as you tried not to judge a book by its cover, the cover blows on you. I must say that the place really did not look too bad, except the beds weren’t exactly comfortable and the sheets probably needed to be thrown away and replaced. But what got us the most, especially my sister-in-law, was the lack of ventilation and the absence of air conditioning.

Did I mention that our first night there happened to be the hottest night of the year in London up to that point? It was. There were several warnings all over the city, especially about keeping hydrated throughout the day.

After moaning and groaning about the heat, we decided to walk around the neighborhood for some fresh air, snacks, and the hope of finding another hotel. We got all of the above. We walked into a small, budget hotel that looked clean, bright, and had air conditioning! We talked to the lobby attendant, who allowed us to book two rooms for the following evening. We had to tough it out the first night since it was already paid for. Luckily for us, the guy at our then-current hotel allowed us to cancel the rest of our stay. The following day, we moved our stuff to the other hotel. The bed was very comfortable, the sheets were cleaned, and the air conditioning was nice and cool. We couldn’t help but laugh, though, because the rooms were super tiny! The bed took most of the room, so walking around the room could only be done by one person at a time. In the bathroom, I had to put down the toilet seat cover to sit on while I brushed my teeth and washed my face. It was comical, but I enjoyed it.

Now, the city! It was the only place where we decided to go with a tour bus. We opted for the hop-on, hop-off bus tour. This gave us flexibility as to where we wanted to be at what time. Just make sure you know your cutoff times. Despite the heat, I liked being on the top deck because it allowed me to see everything without barrier. We visited and stopped by several places like the London Eye, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben. Our bus ticket even came with a one-way ferry ride. It was fun. The entire trip was fun. We also spent some time exploring the neighborhood, and walking around nearby districts.

I wish I could have gone to King’s Cross Station to see Platform 9 3/4 and to the Elephant House because I love Harry Potter! It would have also been nice to visit Notting Hill. Nonetheless, these are all on my bucket list for future visits.

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London Eye
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Ice cream makes everything better… oh look, the Tower Bridge!
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Hello, what time is it, Big Ben?

 

Just in case you want to see other legs of my tour: Hamburg, Vatican/Rome, Paris, and Geneva!

Europe 2016: Geneva, Switzerland

Sorry it took quite a while to post again, guys. Life got really busy with work and the wedding planning. But here I am!

We only spent two days in Geneva, but it was so enjoyable and probably all I really needed there. The first thing that struck me when I got there was the free public transportation! Yes, you heard me right, it was free! I don’t know if that’s just the time we were there, or if the city actually gives its visitors and residents free rides to get around. Whatever it is, I was so thankful! Free stuff is hard to come by, especially during our trip.

Another thing that struck me? The contrary of the first thing: that everything was so expensive! I probably had my most expensive basic meals over there – think 16 Swiss Francs for a Chinese lunch special that’s around $7 at your local Chinese restaurant. I also spent 29 Swiss Francs for four tall drinks at Starbucks, no add ins or modifications.

Whether or not you think Geneva is expensive, I think it’s worth a visit, or in my case, revisiting. The place is so beautiful and clean, and the air is so crisp and fresh. We took a cruise around Lake Geneva, where we saw the statue of The Little Mermaid and various grandiose homes formerly and currently belonging to princes, princesses, and other internationally relevant individuals.

I love how small the area was. We took a bus ride all the way to the very end of the city, and walked across the border (France!). We trekked to get to Telepherique Saleve, took the cable car up the mountain, and just enjoyed the view. The view was to die for. On one side, the beautiful Geneva, and on the other, the amazing Swiss Alps. Must. Go. Back.

I drafted this post over one month ago, and I’ve semi forgotten what else I had to say. Grr!

Anyway, here are some pictures!

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One view atop Mont Saleve
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Lake Geneva – so beautiful, so peaceful.
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It was such a gorgeous day to chill and do some people-watching.
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Hi, Light House.

 

Previous related posts: Hamburg, Vatican & Rome, and Paris!