Monday, February 29, 2016

What February has Taught Me

I was inspired by Chelsea's post and decided to write my own version of what February has taught me. It has been a crazy month full of adventure, lots of mishaps, stress, happiness and wonder. On February 7th, I finally arrived in Berlin, my new home for the next year, and perhaps even longer. I have never lived in a different country or even had to find a place to live before, so this last month was full of firsts. This past month, I have learned so much...

Finding an apartment is much harder than I thought. In Winnipeg, there's almost always an affordable apartment available for rent. In Berlin? You blink and it will be gone. You can send hundreds of messages in a day and only receive 5 answers, most of which end up being very disappointing.

Being a foreigner is more complicated than I thought. I have never had to deal with visas, paperwork or bureaucracy before, and it's frustrating as all hell, but there's not much we can do. It's worth it in the end, isn't it?

Sometimes being a tourist can be quite calming. I'm sure most people living in Berlin would disagree, seeing as they all avoid those areas like the plague, but having been here twice before and only visiting the tourist areas, going back felt so familiar. It made me feel like I actually know where I am and what I'm doing. Especially when I end up helping some poor lost Dublin girls on the subway!

All it takes is a run. This is something I already knew, but it was most definitely confirmed while being here this last month. Sometimes, all you need is a solid run to get rid of the stress.

I am much stronger than I thought. I have had quite a bit of bad luck lately, and many times I have wanted to give up and come home. There has definitely been a few times where I have asked my parents to bring me home. But I'm still here, and things are starting to fall into place.

Be grateful for every person you meet. You never know what will happen; this person may save your life, teach you some valuable life lessons or become your anchor, or maybe just be someone you can go to the bar with. Either way, never underestimate meeting new people.

Always take time to have fun, even if you think you don't have time.

Berlin is an amazing city so full of potential and I can't wait to see what other lessons it will teach me.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Bob the Alien

When I was working at the museum gift shop in Winnipeg, I came across this strangely cute stuff.... creature. On the tag, it read "Bob the Alien" and the name stuck. I fell head over heels with Bob and decided to buy it. I needed to find a way to turn this impulse buy into something useful. So I did what any rational adult does with a new stuffed animal... And brought him on my trip. I have seen so many pictures of garden gnomes, rubber duckies, or something sentimental that people can't stand to part ways with and bring with them. So I thought, as I'll be travelling alone, there won't be many opportunities for me to take pictures of myself that aren't selfies, so I might as well put Bob in the pictures.
It turns out, he's an awesome pillow (I really can't stand the airplane neck pillows), as well as a very efficient ice breaker. The fact that he can sit up right without any help makes him ideal for pictures. Plus who doesn't love his goofy smile?
Loch Ness, Scotland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Stonehenge, England

I've been trying to take pictures with him as often as possible, though sometimes I do forget. It does give me a good excuse to walk around Berlin and re-see the tourist sights that once you live here, you avoid at all costs. It has been a great ice-breaker and perfect excuse to really go out and explore.

For more pictures, make sure to follow Bob on Instagram!
Click here to follow Bob on Instagram!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

German Men Sit Down to Pee.... A Book Review

One thing that always surprises me, is when someone has actually read my blog. I mean, I know people read it, but when someone tells you they read a specific post, it's always a nice surprise. It kind of makes you feel like a celebrity sometimes!
In December, I received an email from a man named James Cave, who had read my post about moving to Germany. He co-wrote a book called "German Men Sit Down to Pee And Other Insights Into German Culture" and was hoping I could read it and make a review, seeing as I could soon be an "expert" in the subject (my words, not his). He sent me a copy of his book and I finally got around to reading it!
So here is my review:

Everyone knows Germans are an interesting people.... They follow rules like their lives depend on it, they eat a lot of sausage, make some of the best beer in the world, they don't have a sense of humour, are extremely efficient, that there are no speed limits on the Autobahn and well... there's the Nazis.
In German Men Sit Down to Pee, you are taught about German culture, all the quirky things Germans do, like wait for the green man to cross the street no matter what happens and some of the strange rules that are in place, like on some beaches, there are rules for the maximum size sandcastles can be. It also demystefies all those stererotypes that Germans have, though most of them are true, they all come with a twist;
-Germans DO have a sense of humour, we just don't understand it.
-The WWII times are discussed heavily, but Nazi salutes are illegal and Nazi jokes are not funny.
-There is more than one "Autobahn" (which literally just means motorway) and some do have speed limits.

I won't give away too much... You'll have to read it for yourself!

I've only been in Berlin for about 2 weeks now, but I did live in a German family for 2 months a few years ago, and I can definitely say that a lot, if not all of the things in this book are hilariously true. Some of them you're scratch your head and wonder what planet these people came from, and others you'll think "why don't we do this too?!"

All in all, it's a hilarious book, which also offers advice, and whether you plan to visit Germany for a few days or live there for a few years, it's definitely worth a read.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Oh London...
It's an amazing city full of life, people and things to do. I spent 10 days there and I know for a fact that even if I spent 10 years there, I still wouldn't manage to see everything London has to offer. Here's just a sample of what I did!
The Big Ben, the Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and the tower Bridge... all these world-famous landmarks are all in one city. It seems almost impossible for one single city to have so many completely different world-famous sights, but London definitely does, and it almost makes you feel like you're travelling in more than one city as you try to see them all (hopefully not in one day).

Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

London has a gazillions museums of all types, and the majority of them are free, so it was a pretty good (and cheap) passtime. The British Museum is an amazing place to start. It has over 6 floors and talks about culture and history on every continent, so you're sure to find something interest, no matter your interests.
I absolutely loved going to the Shakespeare's The Globe Theatre. There's a museum about the history of theatre in London, but also of course, about Shakespeare. The Globe was rebuilt to look as historically precise as possible, and let me tell you, it's definitely impressive. I wish I had been there during the summer to see a live play and stand in front of the stage like a "Groundling"!
You could also spend hours and hours at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It's the biggest art and design museum in the world! It has an amazing collection of all sorts of objects, jewelry, statues and paintings.
If it's history you like, make sure to go to The Royal Greenwich Observatory, and go stand on the Prime Meridian! There's a whole museum attached to it about time-keeping, watches and how we calculate time in our modern world.

The Quirky side of London
Little places like Carnaby Street, a small shopping area in Soho, or the Covent Garden area which is another small market, or taking a Jack the Ripper walking tour at night, go to Abbey Road and take a picture like the Beatles, walk around Picadilly Circus and watching street performers, check out the M&M Store or Madame Tussauds,

Magical London
For any Harry Potter fan, London is an obvious destination. You can go to King's Cross Station and take a picture at the Platform 9 3/4, you can do a free walking tour of the film locations, you can walk on the Millenium Bridge, which gets destroyed by Death Eaters in the movie, and of course, you can go on a Studio Tour (That will be a whole post by itself, believe me!)

As you can see, I breezed over 10 days of visting. It was a whirlwind of a city and though it's much much too big for me, it was definitely worth it.

Monday, February 15, 2016


When I told people I was headed for Bristol, they almost all looked at my with raised eyebrows, and asked "why Bristol?" as if a tourist wouldn't ever bother going there. I'll admit, I hadn't really heard of Bristol before and had no idea what there was to see, but I met a few people from Bristol when I was in Thailand, and I thought I may as well take a little detour to go for a visit! It was the first time in a while that I really got to relax. I spent the first two days relaxing at my hosts' house, catching up on sleep and making plans for the next two days.

I finally met up with my friend Declan, that I met in Thailand and we went for breakfast, while trying to decide what to do. I mentioned that I wanted to go to Stonehenge at some point while I was in England, and he said he'd never been, so there it was! Our plan for the day. It was only about an hour drive away, so we headed out to see the rocks.

I'll be totally honest, it was a little underwhelming. We couldn't go inside the circle or touch the stones, we could only look, so after about 20 minutes, we'd had enough. The most interesting part was the visitor centre, which had a ton of information about Stonehenge's history, the theories of what is was used for, how it was created, etc. There was human remains that were found in the land, all kinds of other little treasures and artefacts found on the site, adding more questions and theories as to why it was created, but also diagrams and videos that showed the evolution of Stonehenge. We did a small detour on our way back to see Woodhenge, another similar site, though this one was made of wood and they recreated it with cement stumps... there really wasn't much there, but it was still interesting to see something so old still standing, that we still haven't figured out all its mysteries and most likely never will.

I spent my last day in Bristol exploring, trying to see as many things as possible. I started at the ss Great Britain, a legendary boat that travelled over 1 million miles in its lifetime! You could walk along the bottom of the ship in the dry dock, and walk through the shit, many of the rooms re-decorated to their former glory.

I also went to the aquarium, though that was extremely disappointing... It took me about 35 minutes to walk through the whole thing, and the biggest fish there was a catfish and some tiny sharks (the catfish were bigger than the sharks).... Oh well! It was something to do....

My last stop was the Cabot Tower. It was pretty high up on the TripAdvisor list of things to do, so I thought I may as well give it a try. It couldn't be worse than the aquarium! This was a beautiful old tower that you could climb and get a great view of the city. I was slightly dizzy from the spiral staircase, but the view was worth it.

All in all, Bristol was a beautiful city and it has so much more to offer than what I saw and if I had the chance, I would definitely go back and see more of the city.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Beatlemania in Liverpool

Liverpool.... Where it all began for the Fab Four, our beloved Beatles. I was only in Liverpool for two days, and honestly spent most of my time exploring the Beatles-related areas of the city.
After I checked into the hostel, I went straight to the Cavern Club, where the Beatles really got famous. They played there 292 times in about two years! It's a really cool basement bar and there's constantly live music in there.

I also went to the Albert docks where there's the Beatles Story museum. They talk about the Fab Four from their very early beginnings up until very recently, even recreating certain bars, or even a plane (for when they went to America for the first time). It was easy to spend at least two hours in there! Next door, they had the British Invasion museum, another part of the Beatles museum, dedicated to the British bands that changed rock music in America and around the world. This part also had a little 4D movie experience and a "secret" photography gallery of never-before seen photos of the Fab Four, all of which was included in one price. The Beatles Story has a huge Beatles merchandise store and a cute café with quotes all over the walls, so I definitely spent over 4-5 hours going through all of that.

Next, I went on the Magical Mystery Tour, that went around the city to all the different spots that were made important by The Beatles; Penny Lane, the childhood homes, Strawberry Field, the boys' schools, etc.

John Lennon's childhood home

Paul McCartney's childhood home

As you can imagine, I've been listening to the Beatles a lot more than usual after all this! ;)

Monday, February 8, 2016


Edinburgh is by far my favourite city. It has this charm that is unbeatable! Maybe it's just my fascination with the medieval times, but the city just has this personality that stays agrees with me. It's not a big city, but there's so much history here that there's a ton to visit. Walking in Edinburgh feels like you've stepped back into town and landed in a medieval city. The Edinburgh Castle is on a hill in the middle of the city that overlooks it. It's easy to imagine being a peasant walking in the city with the royalty always above, looking down on the poor, watching their city.

From the Castle, there's a long road called "The Royal Mile." It's just over a mile long and connects the castle to the palace. It's the oldest part of the city and it shows. The old buildings, the closes (the tiny alleys between buildings which used to be the dirtiest parts of the city), the old street names, the cobblestones, etc.

As with any old city, there are old legends and stories. Edinburgh happens to have quite a dark past, and I happen to have a morbid curiosity for the twisted and strange stories. One thing I did, was the Edinburgh Dungeon. It's a sort of themed tour inside the building. We are guided in by people in costumes, recreating scenes from the past, going through different decorated rooms, each one scarier than the last, each story gorier than the last. About halfway through, there's a scary boat ride and at the end, there's even one of those falling rides like at the fair! All inside the building! It was hilarious and terrifying all at the same time.

I also went on a "dark side of Edinburgh" walking tour, which was really a lot of fun. It lasted about two hours, and we walked around the city, through some cemeteries as our guide told us about some of the most twisted stories of Edinburgh, mostly old but some recent as well. From grave-robbing, to royal murders, a man who tried to become a vampire, witch burnings, etc.
Deacon Brodie... The inspiration for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
One of the highlights of Edinburgh for me was the The Elephant House café, where J.K. Rowling used to go to write Harry Potter. They call themselves the "birthplace of Harry Potter." It's a cute little café with tons of elephant trinkets, figurines and even chairs shaped like an elephant's head. The ambiance was really nice, so I can imagine why she would spend hours in there writing. The food is wonderful and the bathrooms are breathtaking. I know it sounds silly, but Harry Potter fans have taken bathroom graffiti to a whole new level. (Speaking of Harry Potter... There's a Tom Riddle grave in a cemetery in Edinburgh)

One story still comes to mind when I think of Edinburgh, and it's the story of Greyfriars Bobby. The dearest little dog! He was rescued by a man named Grey and absolutely adored his master, though he died an untimely death barely two years later. Bobby, who was stricken with grief slept on his master's grave for fourteen years! The cemetery guards tried to kick him out of the graveyard, but he always came back, so eventually they built him a small shelter and fed him until he died. He was buried near his master's grave and there's a bronze statue of him near Greyfriars. (Even Disney made a movie about him!)

It's just a charming city and honestly? I can't wait to go back and visit some more!
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