Roma: 30th September
Sorry this has been so long coming, I got very behind and then stopped posting completely, but I’m back home in NZ now, so I will endeavour to get them all done before I forget everything.
Started my day with a little passeggiata down Via del Plebiscito on my way to the Piazza Navona
I passed the Largo di Torre Argentina, with the ruins of several temples. Seriously Roma is just covered in ruins - you turn a corner and suddenly there’s a major archeological site.
There’s not much in the Piazza Navona, but there is something about it, especially in the morning when there aren’t too many people around.
The square has three fountains and this one is the Fountain of the Four Rivers (none of which I can remember, except one of them is probably the Tiber).
One of many Egyptian obelisks resides in the square, with the obligatory street performer wearing a shiny King Tut outfit which looks like it’d heat you to about 400º in the sun.
There’s something amazing about all the water in Rome. There are fountains everywhere, which creates a strange sort of feeling in the air when it’s as baking hot as it was when I was there.
There’s also something magical about the cobbled squares with the same tables packed with tacky reproductions of famous renaissance paintings, gratifying the tourist’s desire for a leap of recognition, as we think ‘just like in the movies! What fun!’ (also fulfilling this role: Ristorante Vacanze Romane on the square - for the Hepburn/Peck fans).
After wandering about the square looking for a place to have coffee, then deciding that it was all vastly overpriced (6 euro for a cappuccino, I ask you) I went just off the square, down a little back street and had a couple of coffees while watching the endless streams of visor-wearing camera-carrying tourists stomp past in their sensible shoes (I’ve discovered that one never hates tourists so much as when one is a tourist oneself).
I set off down a series of cool shady alleyways towards the river, noting the complete lack of footpaths anywhere, and enjoying some serious people-watching.
I ventured into the working class and therefore uber-cool suburb of Trastevere, starting my visit with a trek up Giancolo Hill and a fabulous view of Roma.
(Note that the Vittorio Emanuel Monument sticks out like a sore thumb).
See! More water. It’s everywhere. Halfway up the hill there was a little water fountain just sticking out of the hill. It’s a water-fueled city.
After a sit and a gawk at the beautiful and chaotic Roman skyline, I walked down the hill and found a little trattoria to have lunch in (Pasta all’amatriciana, delicious by the way) and then wandered through the gorgeous little cobbled alleys and back across the river. I headed back to my hotel via the Via del Corso (getting lost in the process - don’t ask me how).
Roma: 29th September
I started the day by walking around the corner from my hotel (literally, about 30 seconds’ walk) into the Piazza Venzia, where I basically nearly died from general wonderment.
The sqaure is a manic mass of cars, bikes and people, with so much traffic attempting to get through it that there was a dude directing traffic - I snapped a picture ‘cause he looked so elegant doing it, like a dancer:
The most stunning feature of the Piazza Venezia is the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, who was the first king of unified Italy.
You can see just from the haze in the pictures how hot it was - it was 10 in the morning and already at least 26º - and the sun just bounced off all the marble.
Even from this early on in day I could tell what Roma was going to be like - a chaotic jumble of mismatched buildings from completely different periods of history.
On the right, just behind the monument is the ruins of the Forum - all my pictures of the forum were from a bus and sadly they’re all blurred.
I jumped on a hop-on-hop-off bus behind the Monument and went for a ride around the place to orient myself.
We drove through the forum and towards the colosseum (or ‘coloseo’)
I didn’t actually end up going into the colosseum, partly ‘cause of the cost and partly ‘cause of the lines (one day I will go. It gives me an excuse to come back).
I’m pretty sure these next ones are of Palatine Hill, but it was a pretty whirlwind sort of a ride, so lots of the details have escaped me.
This is the medieval bell-tower of the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, which according to my wikipedia-ing skills has been around since 1084. That’s relatively new when you consider that the basilica has been around since the 4th century.
This is the Castel Sant’Angelo, which was originally built by Hadrian as a mausoleum and was eventually turned into a fortress.
And this is, of course, the Basilica Sancti Petri, which is the Pope’s main hangout and despite the fact that I was in Rome when I took the picture, was in a whole other state.
(See! I wasn’t lying, I was actually there! Getting quite sunburned in fact).
The Pont Sant’Angelo and a pretty damn fine picture when you consider it was taken from a moving bus.
I have no idea what this church is, but it’s PWETTY.
This was taken at the Villa Borghese gardens - I have no idea what those trees are, but they’re awesome and a little creepy for some reason.
After the bus tour I hopped off at Piazza Barberini and got a look at Bernini’s famous Triton Fountain:
and wandered down the Via Veneto, stopping at one of the many restaurants for lunch (OMG you guys, I had lunch on the Via Veneto! EEEEEEE).
After lunch I wandered along to the Trevi Fountain, which was of course absolutely packed at 2-ish in the afternoon.
As you can see it was pretty much standing room only. Most guidebooks say to get there really early in the morning to avoid the crowds, but I actually felt that the crowds added to the experience rather than spoiled it. It was an energetic atmosphere.
I swear that seagull stayed there the whole time. It’s like he knew he was in a thousand holiday pictures.
I got myself a gelato and sat happily in the throng for a while.
After that I still had some energy so I made my way to the Pantheon:
It was so nice and cool to sit in the shade amongst the columns for a bit.
at the top of the dome is a little circle which has no glass or anything, it’s just open. Apparently it’s amazing to be in there when it rains, the water just comes down in a column in the middle of the temple.
After a brief stay in the Pantheon I walked back to the hotel down the Via del Corso.
Despite having had pizza for lunch, I had pizza for dinner as well. Needless to say I was a little pizza-ed out for a while.
Copenhagen - Rome (sort of): 28th September
Oh god, this was the day from hell. And thus, it gets its very own devoid-of-photographs post.
It started out like a normal day, aside from the fact that I was awake before 6am. The normal airport-train-taking day quickly devolved into a nightmare of Tom-Hanks-in-an-airport proportions. (I may be exaggerating, but I’m celtic so I’m allowed).
I made it onto the budget airline plane and up into cruising alititude safely, and it was there at 20 or 30 thousand feet that the wheels came off the wagon.
Yep, that’s right, I had my first emergency landing.
A crack appeared in a cockpit window mid-flight, which is really concerning when the lives of everyone on board depend on all the air staying inside the plane.
So we made an emergency landing at Munich airport (well, hello Bavaria, I didn’t think we’d be meeting again so soon) and queued for an hour (or at least I did) to get re-booked on a flight (an hour? Where are we, Great Britain?) before discovering that said flight wasn’t ‘til 3pm. At this point it was quarter to twelve and the plane was supposed to arrive in Rome at 10.30. And, I’d been awake since half-past five.
So, I settled in for my long wait in possibly the least comfortable airport, apart from Copenhagen, or New Plymouth. I had a very expensive lunch of schnitzel and caught up on Doctor Who episodes to keep myself from going insane.
Then, at about 2.30 we find out that the plane is delayed. At this point I burst into tears, because there’s only so much airport a person can take. We were told that they were hoping to have some news for us at about 3.30, ‘cause our plane was still in Hanover or something. Eventually the plane took off at about 4.30, arriving in Rome at 5.30ish, a whole 12 hours after I woke up. After we landed I spotted a couple of people from the Copenhagen flight and joked (exasperatedly) that we’d just taken the longest 2-hour flight in history.
Too exhausted to deal with trains, I paid for a taxi to my hotel, which ended up costing an amount which I’d really like not to think about ever.
My taxi-driver was an actor hired to play an Italian taxi-driver in a film about a privileged middle-class white woman who goes to Italy to find herself. Or at least that’s what it felt like. He yelled happily over the traffic noise about how awesome Rome was (not Italy: Italy sucks, Rome is what’s good apparently) and when I said I was from New Zealand he switched cheerfully over to rugby, or as he adorably pronounced it ‘rigby.’
If I thought finding out that the airplane was broken while on it and in the air was scary, I realised how wrong I was while cruising down a congested Roman motorway at 135 km/h (84 miles/h for my millions of American/English/strangely-not-metric-stuck-in-the-19th-century-readers. OH SNAP DID I GO THERE?) while my enthusiastic taxi driver had a loud conversation on his cellphone, complete with flamboyant hand-gestures.
It was now that I thought I was going to die.
(Ignore the serious tense-issues in that sentence)
But I didn’t, in fact, die and made it to Hotel Straight-Out-Of-A-Poirot-Novel-Set-In-Rome in one piece. Down to the polite but uninterested concierge, the overdone dark crimson drapes and the tiny elevator
I settled into my room, which honestly almost made Harry’s cupboard look like a suite at the Grand and had a pike-out meal at the restaurant, which actually turned out to be the best pasta I’d ever had. Oh, boy was I going to top that before the week was out.
And so the day that seemed never to end ended, and I got a good night’s sleep ready for the gigantic chaotic wonder that is Rome.
Copenhagen: 25th - 27th September
The train trip was very very easy and relaxing - I saw lots of gorgeous countryside, but the train-window was very dirty and it was a high-speed train, so I didn’t take any pics. My hotel was about five minutes walk from the station and had a shower which was actually in the same place as the bed and wasn’t communal (YES!)
I had a very nice dinner at Lê Lê Nhà Hàng, a Vietnamese restaurant just down the road from my hotel in Vesterbro (what is it with all the Vietnamese food you ask? Not sure, maybe it was in anticipation of the wall-to-wall pizza and pasta awaiting me in Italy).
The next morning I had a leisurely start and wandered along a canal which had a beautiful green walkway beside it:
and of course there were swans so I stopped to watch for a bit
Then I ventured into über-trendy Nørrebro to have a look around, managing to navigate my way through the masses of bicycles everywhere. I stumbled across the enormous Assistens Kirkegård cemetery - which is more like a giant park than a graveyard - and is the final resting place of lots of famous danes including Hans Christian Andersen and Niels Bohr.
It was a lovely place for a bit of a wander about with lots of cool creatures - including this adorable red squirrel:
Though I did try, I couldn’t find Niels Bohr, but I did find Hans Christian Andersen:
Is it a little weird that I could have hung out in this graveyard all day?
After Assistens Kirkegård I popped a few streets over to the famous Laundromat Café which is a café AND a laundromat. You can in fact do laundry there. I didn’t get any pictures, but I had to google one, ‘cause the bar was made of books:
(oh yeah and fyi, the squeezy-bottles next to the tomato sauce - not vinegar as I thought, but honey. Yeah, that wasn’t pleasant. Apparently it’s just the english who do the vinegar thing on their chips)
After that I did some more wandering along canals and gazed enviously at all the carefree-looking people on their bikes.
I piked out and had dinner at the hotel.
The next morning I started out nice and early and - this is true I promise I’m not lying - hired a bike for the day! Now you may say that hiring a bike to cycle in a busy city when you haven’t ridden a bike since you were 12 would be a bad idea. But I’m not dead, so it worked out fine.
I actually had a blast (despite the pain the next day and the gigantic bruise on my calf which I still have 10 days later), it was so easy to get around with Copenhagen’s never-ending, sacrosanct bike-lanes.
After a shaky start in which I nearly careened into an old man who yelled at me in Danish I did fine - I found a bit of canal to cycle beside:
See! Photographic proof!
I didn’t fall in!
I had a brief juice and coffee stop at Granola Bar (SUCH amazing juice) I cycled to the Statens Museum for Kunst, otherwise known as the National Gallery of Denmark:
After a slightly-too-intense lunch of herring with paprika, mustardseed and red onion (I know right? Just pick one sharp taste would you!) at the museum restaurant, I dove straight into the exhibition of French art 1900-1940:
(Georges Roualt: The Judges, 1908)
(Amedeo Modigliani: Alice, c.1918)
Which, by the way, has the most Matisse paintings I’ve ever seen in one place. Which made me so happy (I love Matisse).
(Henri Matisse: Nude in a White Scarf, 1909)
(Henri Matisse: Portrait of Madame Matisse. The Green Line, 1905)
(Henri Matisse: Recumbent Woman With Her Arms Raised Above Her Head, 1936)
(Henri Matisse: The Green Blouse, 1936)
(Raoul Dufy: A Landscape near Vence in Provence, 1920-1921)
(André Derain: Still Life With Palette, 1914)
(André Derain: The Two Sisters, 1914)
(Henri Laurens: Woman with a Fan, 1921)
(Fernand Léger: Woman with a Vase, 1924)
Next was an exhibition of Danish and Scandinavian art which was overwhelmingly extensive.
(Vigilius Eriksen: The Queen Dowager Juliane Marie, 1776)
I like to think this fabulous lady is saying ‘oh yes young man, come with me to my chambers’ or ‘you better believe I can beat you at popping and locking’
(Nicolai Abildgaard: Christian I Raising the Province of Holstein to the State of a Duchy, 1778)
(Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein Stub: Ossian and Alpin’s Son Hearing the Spirit of Malvina Touching the Harp, 1816)
(Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg: The Nathanson Family, 1818)
(Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg: The Israelites Resting after the Crossing of the Red Sea, 815)
Or, as I think it should be called, The Women Look Exasperated as the Men Argue About Which Way the Holy Land Is.
(Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg: Pont Royal seen from Quai Voltaire, 1812)
(Christen Købke: Portrait of the Artist’s Sister, 1835)
I love this picture, it just feels like a very accurate painting - the shine on her nose and the pigmentation in her face. Gorgeous.
(Johan Christian Dahl: Winter Landscape near Vordinborg, Denmark, 1829)
(Frederik Sødring: The Ruins of Brahehus near Jönköping, Sweden, 1832).
(Herman Wilhelm Bissen: A Victorious Danish Soldier, 1850-1851)
(Ejnar Nielsen: A Blind Girl Reading, 1905).
(Ditlev Blunck: Manhood. From the series: The Four Ages of Man, 1840-45)
Or, as I like to call it: Are We There Yet Dad? I Need a Bathroom Break. For the Love of Mike, Steve Would You Just Let Me Look at a Map? I Wanna Row. Would You All Quit Nagging Me Please?
(Vilhelm Bissen: A Lady, 1891)
These sculptures always make me wonder what it’s like to sculpt someone’s butt, or their boobs or whatever. Wouldn’t you feel weird? These are the things that come into my brain.
(Jan Verkade: Self-portrait, c1891-94)
Or, as I like to call it, The First Hipster.
The gallery had a whole room devoted to female painters and non-typical representations of gender, with this notice on the wall:
How awesome is that?
After taking in the art, I cycled home before collapsing in an aching heap for a while.
Stockholm (Lots of awesome Moderna Museet Pictures): 24th September
After a lazy start I ventured into the hippest part of Stockholm (Södermalm or SoFo) for breakfast - the classic coffee (which was excellent) and kanelbullar (cinnamon roll) at this little place just down from the most hipster shop I have ever seen (Grandpa - buy your child a tiny bowtie and yourself an overpriced pair of coloured headphones).
I had a wander around the shops, including Pet Shop Sounds which is an apparently quite famous music shop, where I bought the strangest combination of CDs I have ever got: White Light/White Heat by The Velvet Underground and a two-disc best of the Allman Brothers Band album. The guy at the counter looked at me funny.
After SoFo I ventured to the island of Skeppsholmen to the Moderna Museet - a massive collection of Modern Art which was made famous by Andy Warhol when he covered it in fluoro cow wallpaper. This stuff to be precise:
The gallery is organised so that you walk through it chronologically and as you walk to the start you pass these strange little lounge areas with cool stuff in them:
The main exhibition starts with some classic modernist stuff (listen to me, sounding like I know anything at all about art beyond LOOK AT THE PWETTY PICTURES)
(Jacques Villeglé: Pompidoue - rue de Crimée, 1969)
(Pablo Picasso: Bottle, Glass and Violin, 1912-1913).
before rapidly spiralling into some totally trippy stuff -
(Öyvind Fahlström: ESSO-LSD, 1967)
(Elaine Sturtevant: France d’après Rayasse, 1969)
(Andy Warhol: Electric Chair, 1967 + the arty-farty looking, totally accidental reflection of me).
(László Moholy-Nagy: Composition ASC, c. 1925)
A whole bunch of Soviet Propaganda Posters + dude with a hat.
(Aleksandr Rodtjenko: Spatial Construction No. 9 Circle in a Circle, 1920-1921). Possibly stolen by Lady GaGa for one of her wacky get-ups. Awesome bonus of funky shadow:
(Pablo Picasso: Woman with Blue Collar, 1941).
(Aleksandr Rodtjenko: Untitled and Undated. C’mon Alex, give us something to work with)
There was also this amazing short silent film called Metropolis by Fritz Lang (1927) which was like Brave New World meets Commedia dell’Arte meets Thunderbirds. It was really cool.
(Man Ray: Indestructible object, 1923/1965)
(René Magritte: The Red Model, 1935).
(Salvador Dalí: The Enigma of William Tell, date unknown ‘cause there was an annoying pretentious dude standing right in front of the plaque and he just wouldn’t move. I waited for like 3 minutes. Also how totally weird is this?)
(Toyen, Myth of Light, 1946)
(Max Ernst, The Imaginary Summer, 1927)
(Barnett Newman: Tertia, 1964)
In all of the galleries there were these little areas with books and magazines and journals about the type of art on display and lots of comfy chairs to sit on.
Next was photography, starting with a picture of Mr Dalí himself:
(Irving Penn: Salvador Dalí, 1947)
(Irving Penn: Italian Still Life, 1981/1992)
(Irving Penn: Mouth (for l’Oréal), 1986/1992)
(Annica Karlsson Rixon: truckers (red), 1994-1999).
(Maria Hedlund: Untitled, 1998-2000)
(Miriam Bäckstrom: Mirrors, 2009)
Also ‘cause it was a mirror, I had to do the usual thing of a picture of me in the artwork. I mean it is tumblr after all.
(Sidebar: what the hell is my hair even doing here?)
(Cecilia Edefalk: Self-portrait, 1993/2011)
There was of course loads more stuff than this, these were just my favourites. I spent about 3 hours in this gallery. When I came out I had a wander around Skeppsholmen, past the weird sculpture things:
And down to the waterfront:
Where I got a good view over to Djurgården:
Then it was back to the hostel to get ready for my train-trip to Copenhagen in the morning!
Stockholm: 22nd-23rd September
The flight to Stockholm was entirely uneventful and the express train from Arlanda to Stockholm Central is so easy I could have laughed out loud. In fact I did. Especially when I discovered the free wifi on the train.
To add to how easy it was, my hostel was just five minutes walk from the station.
The hostel was honestly the most hipster place I have ever stayed in. I forgot to get a picture, but the reception area had random old-fashioned typewriters and packing cases perched artfully on every surface. Instead of room numbers, each room was named after an island in the Stockholm archipelago (I was in Djurgården).
After dumping my bag, I went for a little explore around my little area (around Vasagaten) which was mostly shopping, but also a few little parks.
After getting settled into my room I went and had a lovely meal at El Amir (including a glass of wine that cost more than my last entire dinner) just down the road.
The next morning I started the day with a very disappointing breakfast at what I later discovered to be Sweden’s version of Starbucks (bleh) before jumping on the tunnelbana to Gamla Stan - the old town. Bizarrely enough while on my tunnelbana journey and in Gamla Stan I came across no less than three buskers doing Bob Dylan songs.
Gamla Stan is a little island covered in winding cobbled streets with some of the narrowest alleyways I’ve ever seen.
My first stop was at the Royal Palace - complete with guards - which sweeps around majestically in a semicircle:
I wandered past the palace and down to the waterfront, which is absolutely beautiful. Last time I was here it was all snowy and frozen, which was nice too, but the sea and the sky were so blue and the sun was belting down.
After the waterfront I popped back up into Gamla Stan for more of a wander, coming across George and the Dragon in a sweet little square:
And a beautiful church hidden in the alleyways:
After much confused map-consulting, I finally found Stortorget, a famous square which was the site of the Stockholm Bloodbath in 1520 when 90 people were executed by a Danish king. It’s also very pretty.
I stopped here and had the best mochaccino of my life. It had a dollop of cream in it. It was at a little cafe on the yellow side of the join between the red and yellow buildings, just in case anyone should ever go there. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called.
After coffee I had an explore up and down Västerlangatan, the main shopping street of Gamla Stan, including a brief stop in a little record shop, which was cut short by the very creepy proprietor breathing down my neck. Do I look like the sort of person to steal things? Do I? Next was lunch at Café Art, an awesome little vault café down a precarious flight of steps. Being underground and surrounded by so much stone helps you to forget the heaving masses of tourists outside.
Then I found a great little bookshop which sells Swedish books in English, so I got the one with the preface by Margaret Atwood (I figured she’d know what was good) - Doctor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg (I’m nearly finished and it’s amazing. It reminds me of Nabokov c. Lolita a little).
After that I headed home down Drottninggatan which runs through the little island which has parliament on it:
stopping at several dvd shops in a fruitless attempt to find Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on dvd. Turns out the Scandinavian release doesn’t have english subtitles at all which I guess is fair enough. (Also knowing that the Swedish title bears no resemblance to the english one would have helped. It’s ‘Män Som Hatar Kvinnor’ or ‘Men Who Hate Women’ in case you were wondering).
Berlin: 21st September
I started my first solitary day (after the initial teary goodbye to my mother outside the hostel) with coffee and smoked salmon scrambled eggs at Blaues Band, while sampling the delights of their free wifi. Mr Super-Kool-Ponytail wasn’t there though.
I managed to navigate the U-bahn and made it to the Jewish Museum, which is worth a visit just for the architecture.
The whole building is designed to represent the history of German Jews, down to the 45º slope of the floors.
The ground floor is divided into axes - the Axis of the Holocaust which leads to the Holocaust Tower, the Axis of Exile, which leads to the Garden of Exile and the Axis of Continuity which leads to the main exhibit.
The Holocaust Tower was originally just a void, which was not associated with the Holocaust at all, but over time the meaning has sort of seeped into it. It was completely silent in there, but a small opening in the roof lets you hear some of the sounds of the city.
Next I went into the Garden of Exile, which was a profoundly weird experience. It is a perfect square, with a slanting ground, with 49 columns standing straight up, with olive willows growing out of the top. It’s designed to make you feel slightly sick - which it does. It makes one feel completely isolated, until someone else emerges from behind a column.
At the end of the Axis of Continuity there’s a staircase - which looks short until you’re on it, then it seems to go up forever - which leads to the main exhibit.
Before you go into the main exhibit there’s another void, like the Holocaust tower, which is called the Memory Void. It is an exhibit by Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman called ‘Fallen Leaves’ - 10,000 iron faces covering the floor, representing the victims of the Holocaust. And totally eerie.
The main exhibit itself followed German-Jewish history from its beginnings to post-war. It had so much in it that it was a little overwhelming, but there was some amazing stuff there.
There was this little stand of yamicas (I honestly have no idea if that’s how you spell it) which were themed, which I found hilarious - here’re some examples:
After the main exhibit, there was a special exhibition of art exploring what it is to be German, which included a couple of really trippy installation pieces:
the office of one of those Micro-nation ‘declare-your-own-country’ things -
and a little waiting room blasting classical music, the entrance to which was a little nondescript door:
also there was this ridiculous ad which I really hope wasn’t government-sponsored
(but also whoever decided to wrap Claudia Schiffer in a German flag is a genius, why did they have to sully it with advertising?)
On the way out I got a good look at the brilliant exterior of the building, which was designed to look like someone had gashed it where the windows are.
On the way back to the hostel I stopped at this über-kool design shop called Schönhauser (probably because it was on Alte Shönhauserstrasse) and bought (after days of deliberation) a hot pink Marx head. Seriously. This one here:
How awesome is that? I couldn’t resist. I may be a little regretful at some point, considering that it is a moderately heavy block of wood that I have to carry in my backpack for another month. But still. HOT PINK MARX HEAD.
I rounded off the day with dinner at - can you guess? Good Morning Vietnam!
Berlin: 20th September
We began the day with breakfast at Blaues Band, which lasted rather longer than usual due to their free wifi. The dude who worked there was so Super-Kool with a capital K. He had a little ponytail and smoked cigarettes out on the street as if he was oblivious to the goings-on in his café.
We had a wee explore around our neighbourhood of Berlin Mitte, which is THE MOST HIPSTER place I have ever been. The cafés are so cool they don’t even have names. Everyone rides around on bicycles with perfect hair and platform heels. There was an art gallery next door to us which was housed in three enormous packing crates stacked on top of each other.
Next was a visit to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. We managed to avoid the fake Soviet soldiers which were littering the square (how freakin’ tacky is that) and did what East Berliners couldn’t do for 40 years - walked through the Gate.
(This shot may or may not have involved crossing the road specially. Shuddup, I’m not pretentious).
This is the Reichstag, which is a very very impressive building. It’s so intimidating and imposing, it’s completely different from buildings like Westminster (or the prettier Hungarian Parliament).
They also have very modern government buildings, like this one:
(Doesn’t that photo look like an architect’s concept drawing? It’s too perfect with the autumn trees).
After the Reichstag we hopped on the bus again and popped by Berlindom, the beautiful basilica:
In the park around the cathedral there were about 15 different couples ‘canoodling’ shall we say. Or, we could say making out. It was all very Parisian. We got another view of he cathedral from the Spree, where we had a nice and relaxing cruise and learned about the buildings which line the river.
The modern government buildings along the river are truly spectacular and were designed to represent a link between east and west - sort of like a band connecting the two parts of the city.
These next ones are the chancellory complex, complete with private garden only accessible by the Chancellor.
It was great seeing a different take on the city - it’s always different from the river.
After our cruise we had a delicious lunch at this great Korean place near Blaues Band and stopped at an awesome little shop called Soma, where I picked up some very cute jewellery:
Yes. That’s right. Those are little Kraftwerk vinyl earrings. They are THE BEST EVAR.
We rounded the day off with another fabulous dinner at Good Morning Vietnam.
Berlin (Extra Special East Side Gallery Post): 18th and 19th September
When we arrived in sunny Berlin, it was in fact, raining.
We made our arduous way on the bus to our hostel (that’s right, is has an ‘s’ in it. Don’t worry no bunk-beds were involved), which we couldn’t check into ‘til 2, so we got on the 100 bus and rode around on it for a bit.
We had a slight drama upon check-in, as we were sent to the wrong room (about a third of the size of the one we booked), but it turned out to be the room of someone with almost exactly the same name. Seriously, what are the chances.
But we eventually made it into our gigantic room (which one or two people could comfortably live in) and had a fabulous dinner at Good Morning Vietnam, the best Vietnamese restaurant in the world. Or at least outside of Vietnam. (Because I’ve been to ALL of them).
The next morning was spent doing laundry (oh, sweet sweet laundry) and after a fantastic lunch at the moderately famous Monsieur Vuong’s, we navigated the initially very confusing s-bahn urban trains (nearly getting caught in the middle of what looked like a rapidly escalating domestic at Alexanderplatz S-Bahnhof - luckily some burly German dudes were stepping in) to Warschauerstraße (tee-hee I love that double-s-symbol-thingy) and to the amazing East Side Gallery.
The East Side Gallery is a 2km stretch of the Berlin Wall, which has been turned into an open air gallery of murals, some of which were done in 1990 and some which were done in 2009 when the whole thing was given a bit of a makeover.
It is an astounding piece of history, and of public artwork.
This post is pretty much going to be the East Side Gallery (also I’m writing this while in my room in Italy which has the slowest internet of all time, so y’all should appreciate just how much waiting time went into this post).
At this point we ducked through a gap in the wall for a sit-down and a diet coke, where we spotted some swans having a wee swim in the River Spree:
midnightskywalker asked: where are you from and how old are your glasses?
I’m from New Zealand and my glasses are from the 80s, and also from New Zealand. Well, actually they were made in Italy, but whatever.
I’m currently in Italy, so I guess my glasses are getting to know their ancestral home.
I’m not usually this weird (I am).