Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Walking a half marathon in Berlin

We have walked 28 kms over two days of adventuring in Berlin!

Yesterday we spent the day checking the area near a portion of the Berlin Wall called Eastside Gallery, which is a 1.3km international memorial to freedom. We plan on renting bikes and checking out more of the wall later on. Near this portion of the wall we checked out the fantastic vegan grocer, Veganz, the adjacent vegan cafe, Goodies, and the upstairs vegan shoe shop, Avesu, and finally the upscale vegan restaurant Mio Matto. What a day in vegan paradise!

We also spent quite a bit of time in this large abandoned/repurposed warehouse complex. Some portions are empty while others have breathed new life with coffee shops, a skate park and a crossfit studio. It's interesting to see a few businesses sprinkled among abandoned buildings, squalor, broken glass, and extensive graffiti. I have mixed feelings of the epidemic of graffiti in Berlin. I enjoy photographing the very well done pieces, but do not agree with the vandalism. It is particularly sad to see sculptures, murals, and heritage buildings vandalized, and generally done so by "taggers" with no aesthetic appeal.

Today started the morning with breakfast of tofu quiche and bagel at the vegan cafe No Milk Today. We also purchased one week metro passes, which cost about $28 euros each, and explored further afield. We went to the Hamburger Bahnhof Contemporary Art Museum. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and perhaps I've been spoiled by so many other fantastic museums, but I was not moved by much of the exhibits. I did enjoy the Marx collection which included some Andy Warhol pieces as well as the sound installation by Susan Phillipz.

Ah if we could only spend everyday strolling, viewing art and enjoying wonderful food...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ferret kisses and other adventures

We arrived in Frankfurt on Saturday April 5, 2015. The hotel I picked out, Neue Kraeme was perfectly situated to interesting architecture, public transportation and a 30 minute walk to the vegan grocery store, Veganz. We spent the first afternoon getting a lay of the land, wandering the nearby streets. We picked up a SIM card for my iPhone for about $30 euros which comes with 3GB of data. Having a phone with internet has totally changed travelling! It's so convenient to use maps/GPS, metro apps, and to find sites and restaurants.

Sunday we woke very early in Frankfurt and wandered the streets for a while checking out a large square and a bridge covered in lovers locks.

We made it to a quaint vegan bakery, Edelkiosk before heading to the train station for our trip to Berlin. At the station we chatted with a homeless man with two ferrets. After giving him some change I had intended to snap some photos of the ferrets scurrying around on the floor. However, the gentleman excitedly insisted he place them on my shoulder for J to take a photo. The photo was not flattering as I looked both perplexed and fearful as one of them starting kissing/tasting my face. You will just have to use your imagination.

We were pleasantly surprised to find vegan labelled lunch options in the train station, although we had packed snacks just in case. (In a previous trip to Bhutan, the tub of peanut butter we hauled around had been a life saver). We purchased our tickets online (after correcting my first mistake of buying tickets from Berlin to Frankfurt instead if the other way around). Using the very helpful http://translate.google.com/ we deciphered our tickets as car 2 and seats 25 & 26. Unfortunately the big 2 I saw on the outside of the train was for second class not car 2, which meant I inadvertently roused a sleeping woman who was "in my seat". She was thankfully nice when we realized the mix up. With our backpacks on, we then weaved up and down the bouncing and lurching train, through the dining cart twice, until we finally found our seats, probably moments before J would become sick. Settled in, we made the 4 hour trip and arrived in Berlin Sunday evening, to our lovely studio apartment on the fourth floor of a typical German walkup apartment. We used AirBnb which allows you to rent vacation rooms or whole apartments around the world. We like it as it is more affordable than a hotel, you can have a kitchen, you get to live in a local community and the great mapping features allow you to pick out a rental according to the area amenities you desire. This one is 500 meters from a yummy vegetarian restaurant, Yellow Sunshine, where we ate great vegan burgers soon after arriving. We again got the lay of the land by wandering several blocks before going to bed.

For my photos check out https://www.flickr.com/photos/8751723@N02/

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Off to Germany!

We arrive in Frankfurt on April 5 and stay one night before departing on the train for a 4 hour tour of the countryside to Berlin. We will spend 11 nights in Berlin in an Airbnb vacation rental apartment before coming back to Frankfurt for our final 2 nights.

I've been preparing for the trip by reading the English Berlin magazine; The ExBerliner, chock full of articles on events, dining, shopping, entertainment and culture. Another helpful guide is Timeout Berlin, with great tips on attractions and museums.

So why Germany? So many reasons! It is a direct flight; no exhausting transfers or lay over. Berlin is full of amazing history, architecture, art and museums. We also adore vibrant cities and just spending time wandering the streets snapping photos, window shopping and checking out the local cuisine. Ah the food; Berlin is becoming known as a Vegan Mecca. This is a great article on the many vegan offerings Travel Guide: Vegan Berlin. And of course the always helpful HappyCow, the worldwide vegan friendly listings, has lots of suggestions for Germany. There is even an all vegan grocery; Veganz.

Adventure awaits!