Year-on depression and a confession.

So here we are again. I feel like I’m sheepishly contacting an old friend after being absent for a year.

My last entry was about Amsterdam, and truthfully that wasn’t really the whole way through my trip. It tecccchnically was only just, if not not quite halfway. I kind of got swept up in the many moments that obscure your first overseas holiday. Barely making a train. Being bullied by gypsies. Being hypnotised by the many different supermarket items that look similar, but oh so different.

I guess I thought I’d get around to things, but here’s the confession: I got lazy.

This time a year ago I was in Paris, actually. On this day, a year ago, I went to the Centre Pompidou and saw the Jeff Koons exhibition and it was prettttty cool. I also ate a totally legitimate Parisian croissant, bought my dad a Le Tour de France tee, and acquired no less than 10 Eiffel Tower keyrings.

But I am here, now, again, to reflect on the adventure that was a year ago, and prepare for a new one.

That’s right.

I’m off to America in September/October.

My plan for now is to book my tickets (which is happening sooner rather than later) and then get writing again. I might even give you an update on what I did after Amsterdam part one. I took a lot of tacky photos which are begging for a place on the internet, after all.

Stay tuned in the meantime.

Carrie

 

Amsterdam part one: Doinka.

I never knew quite what to expect from Amsterdam.

I got off the DeutschBahn from Berlin at Amsterdam Centraal. From there, I met a very strange taxi driver who took me to my hotel. I explained I didn’t speak a lot of Dutch, but I asked him how I say ‘Thank you’ as I’d forgotten.

You just say “Doinka”, he replies.

Oh. Okay.

So there I was walking around Amsterdam saying “Doinka” to pretty much everyone I met. Buying a bottle of water. Getting a menu. Getting some groceries. Doinka, doinka, doinka. And I was getting some strange looks.

After a particularly quizzical look from someone at newsagent, I did a quick google. Thank you was ‘Bedankt’, or ‘Dankuwel’. And Doinka? Well it wasn’t Dutch, but don’t look for it on Urban Dictionary.

I was way off. Cabbie, if you’re reading this, you got the dumb tourist.

The hotel.

I was staying at a place called Hotel La Boheme. It was very quaint indeed and everyone there was lovely.

But when I checked in, the guy helping me out was like… “Have fun on the suicide stairs.”

I must have frozen because he goes, “Oh no, they’re murder stairs. Very steep.”

He wasn’t wrong.

stairs

(I had to get my suitcase up and down that – and I was only one flight. Some people had to go up three. Apparently they get a beer voucher. Well deserved in my opinion.)

Funnily enough, for a lot of the day you’d hear a symphony of crashes and bangs, or a few sequential thud thud thud thuds. It was pretty obvious someone was checking in.

But the description of the stairs, yeah, just a little creepy.

Mimi.

The hotel has a mascot/resident cat named Mimi. She was awesome, and had not a care in the world. She wasn’t allowed in the dining area at meal times, but apart from that, all bets were off.

mimi

She has a good life, that kitty.

Dutch Television.

To be honest with you, I was just grateful there was MTV in my room. Yes, it had Dutch subtitles, but I can confirm the effect of Catfish and Ex on the Beach was not compromised in any way.

There was, however, an interesting game show.

tetris

I couldn’t understand what they were playing for, but I did understand that it was Tetris and apparently video games in Holland haven’t progressed past ’84. No complaints here.

info

You’ll also be pleased to know infomercials still exist overseas, and they’re just as filled with empty promises. Even I could tell that and I clearly, as outlined above, am lacking in language skills.

Oops.

lock

I kind of got cocky with my suitcase. I zipped it up and locked it and ran off to get my train not realising that I’d accidentally changed the lock code. That was an interesting afternoon.

So after trying the numbers in the neighbourhood I remember my last code being in, I put the code back to 0-0-0 and started from scratch.

It got to 7-0-4.

Sigh.

It was a long afternoon. But somehow, the victory of cracking the code made me feel like a bogan watching Wheel of Fortune.

With that, stay tuned for part two.

Berlin Act Three: Going with the Flow

I did mention that I’m not fluent in German, didn’t I?

English speakers are lucky in Berlin. If you don’t speak German, and the Germans say they don’t speak English – what it means is, “I’m beautifully fluent in English but have to pause for a second occassionally to make sure I use the correct word.”

So when I genuinely encountered someone who didn’t speak any English (or at least thought it would be fun to make the tourist play a game of charades), I actually froze. It wasn’t a good look for me. All I was trying to do was ask for a bottle of water, and it sort of ended up looking like I was trying to direct a plane in. Then I gave the guy a thumbs up.

I never returned there.

The yelling man.

Another language barrier moment for me was when I was desperately lost and looking for a way in to a U-Bahn station.

I found a lift, and pressed the down button (riveting stuff) and then this older big bald German man came up, stood in front of me, started talking to me really angrily (Germanly?) and pushed me away. I’m not sure what I did, but once he’d done that, he looked at me, said “DANK-E” closed the lift doors, and went down as I stood there totally bemused.

It was a special moment. One I’ll truly treasure.

Schnitzel as an artform.

My beautiful friend Edith, who I’ve mentioned before, had an exhibition on while I was over there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any pictures of her work that would do it justice so I won’t post them here – but go check out her stuff.

Anyway, an honourable mention as part of that exhibition needs to go to this schnitzel, which was nailed to the wall.

schnitzel

Even the curator was talking about how much Germans love schnitzel. Now we have proof. ^

Good people.

I already mentioned my plane friend (plane, not plain), Johanna. On the Friday night I was there, we went to Flow Bar where her amazing friends were working, and what a night. There was a smoke machine. There were ’90s dance anthems. There were defunct Nokias set in resin. It was heavenly.

flow

flowphone

I’m not sure if I’ve made my policy on schnapps clear – and it’s that I truly believe it makes people cranky when they drink it. But the enthusiasm of these particular Germans, who I wanted to adopt and bring home with me, was that you can’t have enough. It’s called Berliner Luft, and it’s minty / amazing.

berlinerluft

Y’all better come to Australia.

cuties

(Excuse the blur. Too much Berliner Luft?)

I ❤ Berlin.

Despite everything else I saw, Berliner Mauer / The Berlin Wall art really was amazing.

These were taken at the East Side Gallery. I have several (hundred) more pictures, but anyway, here’s a quick look.

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The windswept look.

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It’s one of those sites that while yes, has been restored several times, it’s still very much in tact. There’s something really nice about that, and the fact that it’s such a large, open-air gallery.

So in summary, from the people to the sights, and from the markets to the amazing U-Bahn, Berlin is an amazing city. And I’ll definitely be back.

Next stop: Amsterdam (As recounted from Paris, sheesh).

Carrie xx

Berlin: Act Two – Sights seen.

Being pretty inexperienced at travelling – apart from the odd foray into the Gold Coast – I have taken way too many pictures while I’ve been away. I’m going to spare you from all the hilarious things I photographed because they were “different, lol” and just get on with it.

Except this.

heh

Heh.
Anyway, over the five days I was there, I saw a lot and quite frankly, loved the place. Here are a few touristy things what I done.

The TV Tower.

So a lot of Berliners said that the TV Tower (or Berliner Fernsehturm) is a pretty overrated attraction. And look, I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t the thing I found most memorable, but I would’ve felt incomplete not taking at least a thousand photos of it.

bp

OOOOooooooh.

I did however see it as a good reference point. If I was just wandering around Mitte exploring, and I could see it, I was generally not too far from home.

And if I couldn’t? I was lost. It was a useful reference point to be honest.

The Brandenburg Gate.

bbg2

I actually wasn’t taking a picture of that guy, but here we go, a genuine tourist shot. The Brandenburg Gate/Brandenburger Tor/Brandy B is quite cool in real life. It took me a while to figure out how to get there, and this will cheer the Sydneysiders – because the trains to that S-Bahn station weren’t actually running that weekend. A little taste of the Bankstown line.

What you couldn’t see what how it was actually raining while I was trying to get this picture, and how after I took it the sky opened up. So my time there was limited, but still, great.

Not to make light of what is a very impressive structure, I couldn’t get the words of Dennis Denuto out of my head while I was standing in front of it.

Berlin. “It’s got a pretty good gate.”

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Checkpoint Charlie.

Now this seems to be the spot to get to if you’re a tourist, and my my was it touristy.

We all know it. Or do we? Either way, Checkpoint Charlie was the crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. I did my duty, took a few pics and had a little look around but to be honest, you’d be surprised you’d actually found it. It’s been preserved in a sense, but not to the point where you’re not dodging real traffic to go and see it. The signs are also placed where you’d assume people would sorta just walk under them if they were on their way somewhere else.

cpc

That said, it was an interesting part of the world to find yourself in.

And this was a nice touch.

cpcurry

Tempelhof Park.

I was sent here on a mission from my pal Edith to check this place out. I got INCREDIBLY lost on the way, finding myself walking up and down this one street, WIFI-less and totally lost.

I did see this though. Doesn’t this Willy guy look like a barrel-o-laughs?

willy

Anyway, eventually, after a mini-tantrum and a quick trip on the S-Bahn, I found myself at Tempelhof Park / Tempelhofer Feld.

templehof

It is incredible. It’s a huge, defunct airport that now invites people to ride bikes, run, walk, and look like total dickheads on those segue (I’ve seen them called Segways too) things. Historically, it was used as an airport in Berlin up until 2008, and it was also the site for big creepy Nazi rallies which it’s quite famous for.

tempelhof2

Anyway, I like what they’ve done with it. I wandered around it for ages and felt like I’d walked nowhere, so I feel like a lap would probably take you a full 24-hours.

t

And with that, the third and final instalment of Berlin is on its way.

Danke,

Carrie.

Berlin: Act One – The Hoff.

Let’s talk about Germany.

As I mentioned in my last post, it was an easy-yet-interesting entrance into Europe. Toothless custom man was cool. The guy dressed head-to-toe in Harley Davidson gear was cool. The couple who pushed everyone out of the way to get to the luggage carousel were cool, because they had mullets and that reminded me of my family Australia, BUT they were screaming at everyone in German so it reminded me that yes – I had taken that big step, and I had landed on European soil.

My first night there was honestly, a bit of a blur. I spoke to about three people at the Circus, where I was staying. That would be the Circus Hostel, not the Circus as in I ran away to join the circus.  and they were for real, all named Jan. I put it down to jet lag, but the next day, I saw them all again. With their name tags on. *shrug*

dhoff

So this place I was staying? They LOVE the Hoff.

Not in the way EVERYONE loves the Hoff, but they serrrriously love him.

Like to the point where they have this shrine to him in their basement…

unnamed

…and a petition to get their street, Weinbergsweg, changed to “David-Hasselhoff-Strasse”

dhs

See?

AND did you know that the Hoff was solely responsible for bringing down the Berlin Wall?

heroichoff

#hero

The love ran deep. It would’ve been so endearing if the expression of their affections wasn’t so… intense.

Coming up next entry:

– Why are Germans so attractive?
– Am I standing on a runway? And,
Schnitzel: an art form.

Stay tuned.

24 hours later.

Hallooo…

Here I am. In a different country, about to head to another. It’s actually my last night in Berlin, and I’ve had an awesome time here. I’ve had the best Turkish food I’ve ever eaten, seen some pretty excellent stuff, and had some old German guy have a go at me. I think.

But first things first.

To the airport.

Having a night flight, I had the whole day to prepare. Which is lucky, since I’ve always been a procrastinator. It’s not my fault, I always get things done and where I need to be, it’s just how I work best.

So it got to abouttttt 2pm and I thought I’d better pack. My incredibly cute mother decided she’d come to Sydney to drive me to the airport. After our fight about money pouches, we took some selfies…(togetheries?) but she’d kill me if I posted them, so here’s an artist’s impression.

mother_daughter_good_relationship_H

Anyway, I got to the airport, realised I didn’t know how to do life, waved goodbye to Mum, cried (what) and went into the customs bit.

Boarding the flight.

As they started to board, Coldplay’s ‘Sky Full of Stars’ came on over the general Sydney Airport radio. I didn’t know whether it was an incredibly poetic moment, or just a reminder of how much I hate that song. But nonetheless, I was feeling pretty sick and this didn’t help.

And there I was. On the plane.

Sitting right next to the toilets. And right behind business class.

economy living

But it wasn’t all bad. In fact, it was quite roomy. And my entertainment worked, which is always a plus. It turns out that my neighbour’s headphone jack thing was messed up and she couldn’t watch anything… which would absolutely suck… but the flight attendant was very apologetic and found her another seat. Alas, she didn’t like it.

This resulted in her returning to her seat next to me, taking a lap of business class, and then asking to be upgraded to first class.

(Bitch, please.)

Other highlights from the flight? The little kid sitting with her parents and baby brother who projectile vomited all over the walls and carpet probably wasn’t one. But the free-poured vodka soda wasn’t so bad.

Abu Dhabi.

Talk about being in a daze. I had a 3-hour wait at Abu Dhabi, and it was pretty uneventful. I did however find a Hungry Jacks/Burger King, and had my first very bogan culture shock.

bogancultureshock
I of course, kid.

Oh, if you want a cigarette there, you have to go inside these creepy claustrocubes.

smokingcuberebels

Grosssss.

Man I tell you something though, that airport is not messing around with the décor.

opulence

Leg two: Berlin, ho.

At this point I was preeeettttyyyyy grumpy. We got herded onto some buses and taken out to our plane. It felt like ages away, but at that point I was two-Xanax-down and ready for bed.

I found my seat – next to a fantastic gal named Johanna – who I ended up hanging out with in Berlin. She said she was grateful I wasn’t a child, and I said I was glad she wasn’t a psycho. It was friendship at first six-and-a-half-hour-journey.

When I wasn’t chatting to Johanna, or trying to figure out what “Ausgang” means (it’s Exit guys), I played the incredibly insulting Airberlin quiz, which was on your entertainment screen.

arseholequiz

Um, rude?
I’m tempted to send this shot as feedback to Airberlin about them as an airline.

Little did I know…

The catering on Airberlin was a sign of things to come. I’ve learned that Berlin is many things, but it is lactose-intolerant-intolerant.

dairy

(Not pictured: the buttered bread roll I ate first. This is what was left – mac ‘n’ cheese, cheese, chocolate pudding, and some other salad with cheese.)

Anyyyyway, it was a pretty good flight in all. One of the highlights? Flying over the Middle East. The camera obviously doesn’t do it justice, but we had some amazing views. This is somewhere between Hamadan and Mahabad in Iran. (I checked on the in-flight thingy, I didn’t just guess.)

overthemiddleeast

And with that, some hours, some crying bubs, a guy in suspenders, and a sweeping view of gingerbread-style houses we landed in Tegel Airport, Berlin.

berlin

I briefly spoke to the immigration officer after this, who had few teeth but many words to say about the German v Australia football match that was to be on that night. He was cool. He was mocking me, but he was cool.

And with nothing to declare, I was in a cab on the wrong side of the road on the way to Rosenthaler Platz… completely delirious.

Six hours on a train tomorrow to Amsterdam – a Berlin post to come!

Carrie

One more sleep.

Hmm. It’s actually here.
unnamed
(Ooh. Fresh…)

It’s been a massive few weeks.

First up, I turned 30 a week ago. Pretty excellent stuff. But I’ve been focused more on the fact that I’m leaving the country. And flying for a million hours. Flying. That thing I’m so scared of doing.

I’m pretty sure I’m on my airline’s ‘this one’s going to be a pest’ list. Plagued by irrational fears as I usually am, I’ve called the call centre about 48 times confirming everything, switching my seats around, asking about connections… Quietly confident I’m gaining quite the reputation for myself as a complete moron.

I’m also 100% sure that I’m one of the people they record for training purposes. (“If she calls again about seat selection, make sure you put her in a middle seat.”)

Anyhoo. Expect more posts. It’s likely some will be shorter, some will be pointless, and some will be to keep me looking busy so I can bravely sit alone in public somewhere. Up with that you’ll have to put. Kind of like my plane mates tomorrow.

Soz.

Weeeeeeeeeee.

xCarrie