Thursday, 23 May 2013

Der Berliner Fernsehturm und Norwegen

I went up the Fernsehturm (TV Tower auf Englisch) a week ago with some of my peers from the Goethe-Institut. We had phenomenal weather for it, and had hands-down the best view of the city. It reminded me a lot of the CN Tower, which I guess is to be expected, but it was smaller and didn't have one of those wicked glass floors. It was another way for me to get my bearings in the ever-confusing Berlin, and was really cool seeing the famous sights from another perspective. 

Pretty wicked photo, if I do say so myself
The photo below is of Unter den Linden, which is a boulevard in Berlin. You can see the Berliner Dom (the big green domed church), which is on Museumsinsel (Museum Island); further on you can see the Brandenburger Tor just before the big park begins; the big park is called Tiergarten; and then in the middle of the Tiergarten you can see the Siegessäule. It doesn't really look like much if you don't know what you're looking at, but I think it's pretty neat-o! (Click the links if you want to see what you're looking for).

After class on Friday I caught a flight to Oslo for my first trip to Scandinavia.  I was only there for about 48 hours, which seems a little ridiculous now that I think of it, but it was a great (and expensive) trip. I got there on May 17th, which happens to be their National Day, so I was greeted by a lot of drunk Norwegians wearing suits and traditional dresses. In any case, it was a great atmosphere! I spent the weekend with Zenon, who (whom?) I hadn't seen in 9 months. I didn't do too much in terms of touristy things, but it was a relaxing weekend in the sunshine. On Saturday I mostly walked around the city looking at buildings and stopping every once in a while to read on a bench. I went for a lovely lunch near the cathedral, and only when the bill came did I realize that I needed to cough up €20 for a salad (to be fair, it was a damn good salad). Zen and I went to the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park and saw lots of naked people in compromising positions, but it was unlike any park I'd ever been in. 

One of the more famous statues in the sculpture park of a very angry baby 
Tower of people in the sculpture park

On Sunday I went with Zen, Ian (from Guelph, doing a semester abroad in Norway) and Zen's friend Andreas (Norwegian) to the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, where we got some great views of the Norwegian country side. 
At the ski jump
Bearded & dreaded Zenon and I in Norway...he looks thrilled to be with me, as always
After such a short while, it was time for me to catch the flight back home (or rather, to Berlin).

I'll leave you with this photo of these happy trolls.
xoxoxox Jennalyn

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Too Few Photos of Berlin

I admit it,  I have been terrible at taking photos of my time in Berlin. To be fair, what it has mostly consisted of is taking the S-Bahn to school, doing homework, admiring the Sehenswürdigkeiten from the S-Bahn on the way home, and sleeping. I have been hanging out with my friend Ben (from high school) who has lived here for a year and a half, but (unfortunately?) the only photos I have with him are on my disposable camera.  

That being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Berlin thus far. I have done a walking tour, which was for me to learn the history of the city as well as get my bearings; I have done a German tour of Mitte (which is the area my school can be found in); I have gone to a club in the middle of the day (full on techno music, dancing, drinking at 3PM on a Sunday); I have gone to a yoga class (like I said I would); I have shown my parents around KaDeWe (aka Kaufhaus des Westes)... and I have so much more on the to-do list.  

Here are a few photos that I have taken of things that I have done. Expect more later on! This week I am going to the top of the Fernsehturm, which I'm sure has the best view of Berlin. I am also going to Oslo this weekend because...why not? It's a long weekend (again) so I am going to make advantage of being in Europe until I-don't-know-when by seeing somewhere new. Zenon is going to be in Oslo with his Norwegian friend that weekend, and it'll be good to see him/celebrate his 21st with him :)

Saying goodbye to mom and dad at the Basel Airport once again -
I was only with them for 1 1/2 days before I was off again!
Soviet Socialist mural in East Berlin, depicting everyone happy and working together 
This was my favourite part of the walking tour - there are tonnes of beanbags, hammocks and book shelves full of books. This square is where the books were burned by the Nazis on May 10th, 1933, so around the anniversary they set up this "Stadt Lesen" centre as a reminder that now we are free to read what we want.  
Check out this wonderful weather we had! This is the Berliner Dom or the Berlin Cathedral
Mom and dad visiting me for the past weekend. This was our German breakfast on the first morning
Quite literally the best Thai food I have had outside of Thailand - come visit me and
I will take you here! I was almost licking the plate at the end of the meal

I'll see you in Norway!
xoxox Jennalyn

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Berlin: Day 1

So far, I am loving Berlin! I have been here for exactly 24 hours, but so far I can tell that this month is going to be a lot of fun and too short. I got to "my" home, which is a really nice apartment in the Charlottenburg part of Berlin. I have a room that's about 2.5 times the size of my and Rochelle's room in Dublin (with German TV), my own washroom and use of the kitchen and living room. My host's name is Marina, and she seems really friendly and is adamant that we will only speak German - while it's tough, I appreciate it!

Today I woke up with a can-do attitude :) I took the S-Bahn to the Goethe-Institut (where I'm going to be studying 20 hours a week for the next month). I knew it was an up-and-coming area of Berlin (or so I read), but I was shocked by all the different types of shops and the masses of restaurants/cafés in the area - I'll never run out of stores to explore! What I was most excited about was a Bikram Yoga studio literally next door to the institute, which I will have to try. 

Instead of heading back home, I decided to explore around the area. With the help of my map, I found my way to Alexanderplatz and the Fernsehturm. I bought a sim card for my phone (with international calls to landlines costing only ¢1 per minute!) and pretty much just walked for 2 hours. I didn't realize that where I was headed would take me two hours to get to - I'm so used to Dublin where you can walk from one end of the city centre to the other in half an hour. 

Things I Like About Berlin (so far):
  • Tonnes of green space (I got lost in the Tiergarten for about 15 minutes today; I found it so bizarre that I was still in the city centre) 
  • Everyone's pretty tall (I fit in!) 
  • Awesome transportation system
  • So much history everywhere! I'm going to do the free walking tour on Saturday, so I'll understand what I'm looking at, but right now everything is just huge, old and decorative to me.
  • You can find pretty much anything you need (perks of a big city)
If you want to get in touch with me, my German number is +49 1578 0319970, give me a call!

In other news, I realised that today marks the 1 year anniversary of me moving to Dublin! Maybe I should make this tradition, moving to a different city every year... I learnt a lot and definitely grew up during my year there - if it wasn't for that experience, I would never be in Berlin now. I miss Dublin already, but I'm eager to start my new adventure in beautiful Berlin :)