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a nice warm feeling from our host

Bremen, Germany


we reached Bremen in d evening around 6+. our host Simone greeted us at the train station in her car (althou it's juz a 10 min tram ride). she is an art/home economics/P.E. teacher who is staying with her life partner and daughter. her life partner Dietrich is also a teacher teaching a few subjects including art.

we were surprised when we reached her home. the family occupies the top 3 floors in a 4-storey building/house (including a little roof top garden). and she actually gave us the whole of d top floor for our stay! d bed is in d attic accessible thru d top floor. can really feel d art teachers in them at their home. lots of stuff were made by themselves: lights stand, little ornaments, photo frames, paintings, etc. all were nicely done! very cool!

o yes, i must mention d dinner. Simone cooked us dinner in like 10 min! i was most impressed! she is like a magician at work! cutting, cooking, seasoning all at d same time. d result is a chicken fillet with cheese n tomato n a huge bowl of salad! absolutely delicious!! Dietrich welcomed us with sparkling wine n d 4 of us chatted over dinner. her daughter Afra came home shortly after n immediately invited us to join her for a night out with her best friends the next evening.

all these gestures bring a lot of warmth to a traveller, this is like a royal treatment! i was really touched. after dinner me n eve was juz sitting by a window, admiring d view n feeling touched n grateful with d treatment. it really does feel like home...



permalink written by  wangyng on April 20, 2008 from Bremen, Germany
from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
tagged Germany and Bremen

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Dresden - a stop in Germany before Czech

Dresden, Germany


i'm getting really lazy to write entries on d blog so i will probably be putting more photos than words here..

Dresden is a 3-4 hour quick stop before we head to Czech Republic. it's a beautiful little town that everyone says we should absolutely stop by... so we did... it is indeed a beautiful small town... d kind i like cos it's so small n u can reach everywhere by walking... so am gonna let d pictures speak...



permalink written by  wangyng on April 30, 2008 from Dresden, Germany
from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
tagged Germany and Dresden

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Bremen - the town musicians everywhere!

Bremen, Germany


ok i 4got to mention in my last entry that Bremen was kind of an accidental stop. our host in Amsterdam couldnt have us for d last night n our host in Hamburg couldnt have us for d 1st night. so we have 2 nights with nowhere to go n Bremen happens to be a stop between Amsterdam n Hamburg. n Simone was kind enough to have us there with d last minute request. so here we are!

anyway, d town centre in Bremen is very small. a day to spend in d town centre is more than enough. like most Europeans cities, there's a market square (Marktplatz) where most activities happens. d Town Hall, Cathedral and Parliament r d main sights there.

n of cos d Bremen Town Musicians r everywhere! books, souvenirs, n different versions of d musicians statues. of cos i need to do d touristy thing n take photos with d original statue!

Simone told us about this 'thing' that starts playing a sound from 1 of d musicians each time u put in a coin. we really wanna see n play with it. we asked d tourist info centre who pointed it out on d map where this 'thing' is suppose to be. until this point we still dunno what this 'thing' looks like. i guess i was expecting it to look like a vending machine or something like that. we walked around d town centre for 30min trying to find it. no luck. we asked some1 at another tourist centre who pointed us a different area from d 1st. we circled that new area again. still no luck. Eve decided to asked a lady at 1 of d shop in d church. thanks to her specific directions, we finally found this 'thing'!! it looks nothing like what i imagined! have a look!

it just looks like a manhole cover! we probably passed by it like hundreds of times when we were circling the area! we were pretty excited and started putting in coins. each time u put in a coin, it plays 1 of d town musicians call. d donkey, d dog, d cat n d chicken. i played twice n Eve played 4 times so she can record all d 4 musicians. o d lady at d church told us d money put in will be given to d poor so it's cool to put in as many times as we want. there were many people staring at us when we were playing with this. it was quite funny getting all d stares n smiles from all these people. haha...

i like this old area called Schnoor. it's d oldest quarter in Bremen. there's lotsa small houses, little shops selling interesting stuff n of cos lotsa souvenirs. some of d doors r not even my height! for once i feel tall in Europe! lol

the stay in Bremen turns out to be extremely unforgettable!



permalink written by  wangyng on April 22, 2008 from Bremen, Germany
from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
tagged Germany and Bremen

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our Hamburg family

Hamburg, Germany


yes it felt like a family outing d whole time we are in Hamburg. Seth always have to bring d kids along (sometimes d dog too) if he is going out. here's him taking us out to show us d nearby port:

anyway, here's what we saw/did during our stay in Hamburg:

the Port
we walked to d port n went on a boat cruise.

d cruise wasnt really nice (cos we had nicer 1 in Brugge) and Seth was disappointed as well. but we did see some things like d biggest dry dock in Europe, some parts of d port has traces of WW2 (wals with bullet holes) and some nice views of d riverside. so it wasnt all that bad.

Rathaus (TownHall)
d Rathaus is beautiful! both exterior n interior are really nice. d sculptures, d fountain, d pillars... i'll let d photos speak

STRIKE!

smokers were protesting against d newly passed regulation to ban smoking in restaurants n pubs etc... we were caught right in d middle of it while waiting for Seth to pick us up n go to d supermarket! it felt like we were in d strike too! weird but cool! hehe...

cooking
yes we cooked here. i made curry once again (Europeans seems to love curry a lot!) n eve made stirfry vege. it was cool cos d kids helped prepare d vege. but they didnt get to eat them cos they had to go to bed. Seth like d curry a lot cos it's really spicy! i like it better than d last time i made it too. i give myself 85% this time.. :D

St Michelis Church
yes, we went up yet another church tower. this seems to be our favourite sport now! haha...

St Nikolai
from 1 side, this gothic church looks perfectly intact but it was destroyed during WW2. only d tower remains and part of d other walls. it is now a memorial more than anything.


d statues there, with d atmosphere, r so powerful that it really affected my mood. i felt disturbed n sad n depressed. a heavy heart to say d least.

Chilehaus
i wasnt really impressed w this building until i saw d shape of it n learnt about d history. this ship-like building is build of more than 4.8 millions bricks. it is 1 of d building that survived WW2 unscathed n is considered an important architect of d city.

on our last night in Hamburg, Seth cooked white asparagus with Hollandaise sauce n potato. this dish is usually eaten in Spring (which is now) n it is a very typical German dish. this is actually d 1st time i ate (n saw) white asparagus. it doesnt really have a lot of taste but d Hollandaise made it yummy! i think i like d sauce more!

we went to d red light district in Hamburg as well, d Reeperbahn. i think after u've seen d red light district in Amsterdam, everywhere else is considered tamed...

will be heading to Berlin tomorrow. kind of dreading d train ride cos d German trains are ALWAYS packed! 1st class or 2nd class, they're always packed! plus it's friday tomorrow... i dont have a good feeling about it...


permalink written by  wangyng on April 24, 2008 from Hamburg, Germany
from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
tagged Germany and Hamburg

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Berlin - it's a complicated feeling

Berlin, Germany


yesterday was an extremely eventful day in Berlin!

1stly, i wanna say i really really HATE the train system in Germany. it totally SUCKS! we got 1st class ticket for d train. we didnt know it was a MUST to reserve a seat (u have to pay like extra 20euros to do that). so it turned out that these "expensive Premium" seats are all reserved! i ended up with no seats in d 1st class cabins! d 2nd class cabins aint any better either. there's loads of people standing around. it was horrendous! i ended up sitting near d luggage area with a number of passengers with d same problem. d trains staff was sooo f!!!ing rude i couldnt believe it! she was telling a passenger who was sitting on d floor of d luggage area to go away n not sit there cos it was blocking her way to reach other cabins! i was thinking 'then get us all seats u f!!!ing b!tch!' gosh this is sooooo f!!!ed up! after paying a shit load of $ for d 'premium' seats, i sat on d floor of d luggage compartment for d 2 hours journey.

obviously i wasnt too happy when i reached Berlin. i was so hoping to quickly meet our host at d station n head to his place so i can recover fr d horrid train ride. we waited. no1. we called. no answer. we sent an sms.... after 30 min, our kind host sent an sms n told us he cant host us anymore cos of work emergency n we shd go to a hostel. we didnt looked up any hostels previously cos he was telling us no problem staying with him. so we were there at d train station,tired, with no host, no internet access n no idea which area to go for hostel. managed to get d tourist centre to give us a list but still dunno where to start. we called our Hamburg host Seth for help. cos we remembered him saying he has a really gd friend who lives in Berlin who got him on CS(CouchSurfing). so we sat in McDonalds while trying to decide on d hostels & waiting for Seth to call us back.

after about 2 hours of sitting in McD, i walked around d huge train station trying to find internet access. when i got back to McD, Eve was saying Seth's friend Britta just came and is buying food! n that she says she will try to help us sort something out. by d time she got back fr buying food, she said she found a couch for us. we were totally impressed! but our host is working late n heading to her brother's housewarming party later so we should go to d party n meet him there. wow! from having no place to stay to being invited to a party! i was speechless!

we accepted d invite to d party. Britta was gonna get some much needed sleep before heading to d party. we decided to spend a little time walking around town n meet Britta when she heads to party.

so our 1st night in Berlin ended in spending a few hours in Hakersher Markt, eating an Asian dinner at a cheap Wok place, going to d party filled with tattoos, dreadlocks, alcohol & smoke, finally eating our accidental life-saver host, then heading home at 3am in d morning!

this is d most eventful day on this trip to date. what an experience!

so today we took it easy n just went to supermarket n spent some time walking ard city.

cant wait to see what else Berlin has to offer!

  • no photos today. next entry perhaps!



  • permalink written by  wangyng on April 26, 2008 from Berlin, Germany
    from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
    tagged Germany and Berlin

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    Berlin - need to go back again

    Berlin, Germany


    Berlin is huge n there's soooo much to see. ended up staying in d city 1 more night than we expected but still couldnt finish seeing what was offered.

    we went to soooo many places... where do i start... hmm...

    Tiergarten was d 1st place we went to. it is a huge garden with a huge memorial in d middle of d park.

    it's a pretty nice garden to juz sit around and have a pinic. we see some ppl playing frisbee as well. there was a big kid carnival there when we went so there were loads of families.

    we walked thru d Tiergarten n head to Brandenburg Tor. we went there twice, once when there's still daylight, then we passed by it again around night fall. it looks really grand n magnificent when d lights come on.

    the Holocaust War Memorial is really big. it has a gloomy n depressing feel especially during d evening when we were there. d shadows played a huge part in how it looks. walking thru d blocks, i cant help but feel solemn n low.

    we went to yet another depressing place, the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.

    it was HUUUUUGE this is actually not d real camp where d Jews were housed but build according to d exact model of d actual camp. there were jail cells, torture area, etc. there's also a number of memorials for d Jews. i didnt feel as strongly as i felt when i was at d Holocaust thou. maybe it was way too big and not as many things to see. so it was pretty tiring walking from 1 pt to another pt. we spent like 5-6 hours there, juz walking d grounds of d camp. it was sooooo tiring! after we left d camp, my host Johannes n I was soo tired we juz wanna go home. we took a different way back to d train station n it turned out to be d wrong way. we attempted to walk past d rail tracks. we were half way thru when an announcement comes from the station. Johannes turned n said "that means us". apparantly d announcement says something like "no trespassing on d railway tracks". it was kinda funny! so we had to turn back where we came from n walked a big detour to d station.

    ok i need to talk about my host Johannes.

    he is d kind soul who took us in after learning that we were stranded at d train station. he juz got back from a business trip then n was really tired but took us in anyway. without even looking at our profiles on CouchSurfing or knowing who we are. he turned out be a really humorous guy n loves to cook! he made pizza 1 night n pasta on another. yummy! chatting with him is a great pleasure cos u end up laughing all d time. we also watched a few movies together. o yes, he offered his place for 2 more nights than we planned. we stayed 1 more night than planned in d end.

    ok i think i will stop here for now cos it's turning out to be an extremely long entry. more later...


    permalink written by  wangyng on April 29, 2008 from Berlin, Germany
    from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
    tagged Germany and Berlin

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    more on Berlin

    Berlin, Germany


    continuing fr d last entry... more of Berlin.

    moving on... we visited Checkpoint Charlie, where d entrance to US's territory from Germany and vice versa. there's this guy dressed in the military uniform near d checkpoint, he has all the 15 ORIGINAL stamps from d WWII. u can have all these stamps in your passport for 10 Euros or something near that amount. of cos i didnt get it! not many people got it cos it cost too much! i saw an American couple getting their passports stamped just before we left d checkpoint.

    a little further down d checkpoint, there's a long marking on d ground where d berlin wall used to be. it's running across d road fr each side of d pavement. it's hard to imagine how d wall affected d people of berlin...

    of cos we passed by the huge square where the German Cathedral n d Concert Hall is. we didnt go in thou...

    and of cos d Rathaus... we cant miss it! it's huge and very RED!

    Berliner Dom is next! we didnt actually had plans to go inside this church for a look. but it looked soooo grand outside n d photos looked really good, we decided to go in. it was a good thing we did cos it was really beautiful inside! it feels like a palace!

    it was HUGE as well! i was just in awe half d time inside (d other half, i was busy being a tourist - taking photos!!). we also went up to almost d top of d domwhere we get a good view of d city. if any1 is going to berlin, i really recommend this church. really worth paying for!

    then there is this Fernsehturm, d highest building in berlin. my host johannes keeps saying it's d talest building in the world. i think he was being sarcastic... or not???

    d Topography of Terror is another place dat's really depressing. it is a really long stretch of exhibits of Secret Services/Police n d victims n how they were treated, etc. very effective to make u feel upset n uncomfortable there.

    on 1 of d nights, we visited d Parliment House Reichstag. there's a glass dom on d rooftop where d public can visit for free. there's of cos strict security at d entrance. every1 had to empty their pockets n go thru a metal detector, like at d airport. but d view on d top was really nice, no wonder it's 1 of d most visited parliment house in d world.

    we cant leave Berlin without visiting East Side Gallery of cos.

    d longest stretch of d old berlin wall, it has since become a long stretch of wall paintings of various artists. visitors left their views/messages on d walls as well. of cos i couldnt give up d opportunity to vandalise legally!

    so that mark d ending of our berlin visit! there's just soo much more to see. d clash of past n present, u can really feel it here! amazing!

    so as a big thank you to our kind host for letting us stayed more nights than we planned, we got up really early on d morning we are to leave n cooked him a nice breakfast. he was really happy cos he loves french toast!! really need to thank him for taking us in d very last minute n spending so much time with us (we even visited him in his office n had long coffee breaks! good thing he is his own boss!)

    so here's to future visits to Berlin!! n to our new found friendship!!




    permalink written by  wangyng on April 29, 2008 from Berlin, Germany
    from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
    tagged Germany and Berlin

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    we had a feast waiting in Hamburg

    Hamburg, Germany


    Hamburg's main train station is huge! our host n us spent 30min trying to locate each other even with 2 phone calls! we only saw him at d other end of d train station when he waved franticly like a mad man! thank goodness he is tall!

    after leaving Bremen, i was thinking to myself, no more home cooked dinner. i was sooooo wrong! there's a feast waiting for us at Seth's place. Seth is an art director. he works on TVC, films, and prints as well. and he loves cooking! he told us he put a huge chicken in d oven before he came to fetch us at d train station. so yes, we have a fantastic welcome dinner once again! (gosh i love d food in Germany already!!)

    Seth will be sooo busy this few days. his 2 kids are staying with him for d week cos their mum is working in India for a week. so he has to look after d kids n us... plus a dog. i dont envy him! :P my impression that all kids are hyperactive is sooo right. d 10min ride earlier from train station to his home involves a lot of talking n looking at hats, glasses, clothes, gloves, n anything they can get their hands on. i'm thinking d next few days here will b quite interesting...




    permalink written by  wangyng on April 23, 2008 from Hamburg, Germany
    from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
    tagged Germany and Hamburg

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    Titisee Lake

    Titisee, Germany


    went to see d famous Titisee lake today. it's abt 40min train from Freiburg.
    we spent 1hr on pedal boat. we can see d black forest from there. it is nice! great weather! beautiful place! another perfect day trip!

    o... went to a shop that sells cuckoo clocks and grandfather clocks. d cuckoo clocks was annoying me after a while... especially when u have 100 of them going off 1 after another! they gave me a headache! i like the grandfather clocks, the modern ones look absolutely charming!

    didnt do much else except go check out souvenirs shops. it's a trap!!! bought so much souvenirs! in d end i decided to stop going into them... in case i bought more.

    that night, we met up with our host Insa n her friends. they brought us to a football Field. it was pitch dark as the Field has no lighting at all. there were groups of people sitting around campfires they built. it was nice lying on d grass, near a fire in the open air in the cold weather, under the stars...

    this is d last night in Freiburg, and in Germany. tomorrow, me n eve will part. she's heading to Spain and i'm heading to Switzerland for 2 weeks! more alps! cant wait!

    permalink written by  wangyng on May 23, 2008 from Titisee, Germany
    from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
    tagged Germany and Titisee

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    Last Days in Barcelona & First Days in Queidersbach

    Barcelona, Spain


    My last few days in Barcelona were great. I was really sad to leave. I spent the last day by myself long boarding around the city. I decided to take this picture too.

    Also I put a couple videos I filmed on YouTube. You can see them both by visiting the following links.
    Video 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEk4I7q6seg
    Video 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkqHi0f6k8w

    By the way, I love this picture. The yellow stuff on the ground are flower petals that fell from the trees. The trees were in full bloom and the entire city was covered in these yellow flower petals.

    When I got back that night we had a video in honor of me. It was fun and here are a couple memorable photos. On the left you'll see an egg dripping from my face, it's pretty self explanatory. Then on the right you see Paul, myself, Carly, and Paulina.

    Also I took a couple videos of Las Ramblas literally about five minutes after Spain beat Germany.
    Video 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx-rk1EwffM
    Video 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f5MsmTU4pk&NR=1

    Unfortunately my time in this city has come to an end. I woke up early Tuesday morning and caught the train to Barcelona Sants to catch the bus to the city of Reus, where my flight was. At the bus terminal a goofy short man started speaking to me in Spanish.

    Now this was a challenge because I speak a very broken Spanish. Meaning I can somewhat understand and somewhat communicate with him. I usually just pick out key nouns and verbs and piece them together into one sentence and hope for the best. And to speak the language is another thing. For example when you go to a restaurant you say, "I would like a water and the paella." When I speak it though it sounds like this, "I want water and paella." But I always seem to be excited when speaking Spanish so it comes out as, "I WANT WATER AND PAELLA!........please." All in Spanish of course.

    Anyways the man told me that I had missed the bus to Reus. I was freaking out because the next bus wasn't until 4:00p, several hours after my flight. Then he offered to take me in his taxi to Reus... By then I knew something was up so I told him to go away. He was trying to trick me into a nice €70 ride. Well low and behold when the bus finally showed up I was able to relax and all the anxiety of travel disappeared.
    I awoke to the sudden stopping of the bus and I was in hell... The Reus airport. It was very small and seemed nice. When I stepped through the front door I was greeted by a frenzy of Scottish, Irish, and German tourists. It was sooo incredibly loud and there were too many accents for one room. I stood in a long line to check my bags. Well as it turns out my bag was 2 kgs over the limit so I crammed some stuff into my carry on and then had to file back into the end of the line and made my way back to the front. I guess I didn't realize how much a kilo was because I was still over by one when they weighed my bag again. I tried to take some more stuff but they said I had to pay for it because they didn't have enough time... It was already 12:15 by this point and my flight departed at 12:30. So I had to go to another desk and pay €15 and then file back into line again. Well I made it to the terminal and the plane hadn't even arrived yet. I noticed the sign on the wall for Ryanair. The banner read Ryanair: The on time airline. It was 12:20 ten minutes until departure when the plane arrived. I thought the banner was ironic but somehow we were in the air at 12:31. And not only were we on time, but I think they made everyone with small children and babies sit in the back of the plane! That was the best part about it. However it was like all the crying children were eerily in sync with one another.

    Well when I landed my cousin Lara picked me up at the airport and now I'm sitting on her couch writing this blog. Lara and Kevin have a cool little apartment in Queidersbach, Germany. Let me tell you, this is wine country. The hour long ride from the airport was very scenic and had rolling hills as far as the eye can see that were covered with vineyards. I'm really looking forward to my time here. Sometime soon is Chicken Fest. I can't remember the German name for the festival but you basically walk around, drink beer, and eat fried chicken. That's all I have for now from Germany.

    Adé,
    Patrick



    permalink written by  pathaley on July 2, 2008 from Barcelona, Spain
    from the travel blog: Eurotrip
    tagged Spain, Travel, Germany, Flowers, Europe, Barcelona, LongBoarding and Euro

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