Monday, March 20, 2017


Needing a change of scenery, I decided to take another weekend trip outside of Berlin. This time, I was eastbound. I was browsing Ryanair's deals and found some extremely cheap flights to Bucharest, Romania, and thought "why not!" My dad has been there once and absolutely loved it, and I have always wanted to see a bit more of Eastern Europe, so this was a perfect opportunity to start!
I didn't know much about Bucharest or Romania in general, other than Dracula, of course, so it was really nice that everything was new. It was also the first time in a very, very long time that I went to a country where I didn't know the language, and I loved being out of my element.

Bucharest may not be the most beautiful city in Europe, but it definitely has personality and a ton of history. I went on a walking tour where I discovered a lot about the different architecture styles; French, Turkish, Communist, Roman, to name a few. People from all over came through Romania with the Silk Route and left a piece of their culture behind or settled and brought their own architecture with them. The Communist architecture is the most noticeable since it is the most recent part of Romania's history. They're gigantic buildings, very square, very stern.

The biggest of them all if the Palace of the Parliament, the second biggest administrative building in the world (the Pentagon being the biggest) and my goodness is it ever huge! Unfortunately, it was closed due to the recent protests in the city (peaceful protests against the corruption in the government), but the outside was still very impressive!

The food was absolutely incredible. Romanians love porc and serve it with everything, and they sure know how to cook it! The best part of the food though, is the traditional dessert called "Papanasi," a sort of cheese dumpling or doughnut topped with sour creme and jam. It may sound like a strange mix, but it's actually amazing! The sour creme neutralizes a bit of the jam's sugar and gives it a perfectly balances taste that you won't be able to get enough of.

A trip to Romania would be nothing without a trip to Transylvania and a visit to Dracula's castle. Transylvania is a beautiful part of the country just beyond the Carpathian mountains and the view from every angle is breathtaking. I did a day trip where we headed to Peles Castle, a castle that was built by Romania's first king, King Carol I. It's near the top of the mountain, has incredible views and the castle itself is the definition of luxury itself. I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside, though, but I can tell you, the details in the statues, even the staircase pillars were mesmerizing.

After Peles, we headed to the famous Bran Castle, known as Dracula's castle. This castle was in fact built as a fortress and border control at the borders of Romania and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Since 1212, the first version of the castle, it has been destroyed and been rebuilt many many times. It is perched on top of the mountain to get the best view of the ancient border wall.

Secret Tunnel in the castle

Ancient Border Wall

The story of Dracula is actually an interesting one. In the 15th century, Romania had a king or ruler named Vlad the Empaler, or Vlad Tepes. He was famous for using empaling as a form of torture and execution. He had found a way to empale people so that the stake would miss the important organs and drag out death for 18-24 hours. All this, mixed with the fact that his father was often named "Dracul" which meant "the Devil" and Vlad was then "Dracula," of "the Son of the Devil," and all the other legends of Romania, an Irish author (who had never been to Romania) was inspired to write his famous novel, Dracula. Though Vlad may have never drank blood, or even lived at Bran Castle, he became famous once again for a whole different reason. Bran Castle was only chosen as his castle because it was the castle that fit the description in the book.
The things you learn, am I right?!

The tour ends in the beautiful city of Brasov, with a Hollywood-type sign above on the mountain and a beautiful central square where you can find musicians and the best restaurant of the city. On a sunny day like we had, everyone is in the square, enjoying the sunshine.

One thing that surprised me the most was how lively Bucharest was. The streets are extremely busy at all hours of the day. It may be the capital and not as big as Berlin (1 million people compared to Berlin's 4 million), but it felt busier. Also, it seemed like everyone could speak English, and very well at that! Everyone was very friendly and I never once felt suspicious or in danger. It still needs a lot of progress and work, but Bucharest is definitely an incredible city to visit. I wish I had spent a bit longer to see all the museums and all its quirks!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

In early February, I headed to London for the weekend (like the typical European I now am) to go see the newest addition to the Harry Potter saga, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I bought my tickets over a year ago, not willing to take a chance in the tickets selling out or the play ending before I got to see it.
I have heard a lot of mixed reviews about it... Many people who had read the script alone had said it wasn't anything close to something Rowling would have written, and those who had seen the play were completely amazed. I decided to wait to see the play to read the script/book and I'm so glad I did.

The two parts of the play happen in the Palace Theatre, an enormous and beautiful theatre in the West End, the sort of "theatre district" of London. It's surrounded by small cafés and other theatres, but this one stands out with its red brick face and of course, the giant Cursed Child logo on the front. There are about 1,400 seats and is sold out every night!

The verdict? I'm torn.

The play itself, was amazing! The script was great, the actors were extremely talented, the sets were so clever and the entire mise-en-scène was spectacular. Being a story about magic, they managed to have spells with light, fire, things and people lifting up in the air, even a scene under water and not one of these special effects seemed cheap. You could hear the sighs and "wow!"s or the crowd with each new special effect and sometimes even just from the dialogue. Both nights when the curtain fell over the stage, we all left the theatre in total awe and excitement.

The story itself, on the other hand, I'm not so fond of. If you take the play for a single piece of theatre unrelated to the Harry Potter series, then it's fantastic. But if you consider it a part of the series, you'll be quite disappointed by the story. Without giving any spoilers away, I'll try to explain what I mean. The play is set 19 years later, and starts exactly where book 7 left off, on the platform 3/4, with Harry's kids leaving for Hogwarts. Of course, we have a whole new set of characters, but also a lot of familiar faces coming back as we find out what happened to them as well. I don't know about you, but people don't usually change drastically when they go from their teenage years to their adult years, at least not a whole 180 in personality.
There were so many characters that would say or do things and I kept thinking "No way, they would never ever do/say that!" A few events also made me shake my head, thinking it would be impossible for this to happen, making the story a little hard to believe, if -and only if- you take it straight from Harry Potter.

I compare it a little bit with The Hobbit movies, with all the extra storylines they added that were unnecessary. As a movie on its own, it's great, but if you follow the story, it's not so great. Cursed Child is much the same.

All in all though, it was a really wonderful play and would still recommend that every Harry Potter fan should see it.  Five years after the last movie and nine years after the last book, we get to dive into our favourite story all over again.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Catching Up

I keep opening this page, writing words, erasing them and giving up. I've been trying to write for a few months but I can never find the right words or the motivation to finish a post. Writer's block is killer! I just have to force myself to write and eventually, things will roll off the tip of my fingers.

My last post was three months ago! A lot of things have happened since and also, well a lot of things have happened before that last post that I didn't mention, so let's get started!

I've been living in Berlin for over a year now and I still love it. It was really really tough at first, but now things have finally seemed to settle and life is so much better, even if life is always going to be somewhat stressful.... I managed to get a new visa to extend my stay in Germany for another two years! I didn't get just any kind of visa. I got a freelance visa, which brings me to my next piece of news. I changed careers. Well that's a bit of an exaggeration, seeing as I have never really had a career to begin with, but I went for entry-level cook jobs to actually finding something I could see myself doing for a very long time. I started working as a language teacher! I now teach English and French at various schools in Berlin, ranging from kids to adults and I love it.  I have also decided to go back to another love of mine and will be starting as a tour guide next week! Ironic how I came to Germany to speak German and I end up teaching and touring in English instead, right?

Another big thing that's new is moving in with my boyfriend! I had been spending more at his place than at my own (I have had crazy roommate after crazy roommate), and it just seemed logical for me to stay. It was almost more his idea than mine, so no one can say I pushed it on him ;)
It was quite the adjustment at first, but I really love living with him. His roommates have become my friends and it has become my home and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It's also a big bonus that he is a very good cook!

One thing that hasn't change is that I am still running and traveling, and still craving any and every race I can find, any destination I can reach. I have quite a few races and trips planned for this year and I will talk about those soon in an upcoming post! The one thing about running that is different is that I joined a running group! Adidas Runners is an amazing group that offers runs every day, and workouts on most days, giving everyone a chance to run when they can, morning or evening, yoga, core training, pace training, etc all for free. It has become a community and though the season only started about a month ago, I am absolutely loving this sense of community and the friendships I have started forming! Running with these people and seeing them run extremely fast gives a renewed motivation to run, which is always a good thing! There's a point system so the more you participate, the more points you accumulate and get to be part of special events, get free registrations to races or all kinds of other goodies like community t-shirts or a discount at the exclusive store! All bonus things you get for being part of a wonderful, slightly crazy running community.

I promise I will be writing more frequently from now on! A lot of exciting things are happening this year and I can't wait to share it all with you!
Bella Lulu Ink Blog