Apr 5, 2014

Last day in Berlin

Saturday, April 5th. My last day in Berlin. In the evening I will already be on the way home.

I was searching for (cheapest) option to get home for quite some time. There is a lot of Slovenian people in Berlin, but it looks like bo one is heading towards homeland this weekend. So i had to find another solution. After hours of browsing for bus, train, car, plane connections, I found good alternative. Not the fastest or easiest, but it's cheap enough. And it gaves me almost one full day to explore Munich :)

I'm taking the bus from Berlin to Munich late in the evening and I'm arriving there tomorrow early morning. So it's basicly a night bus. I hope it's gonna be better than the night train I took three months ago on my way here! I expected a comfortable train, where I could sleep for a while during 10 hour ride but in reality it had very uncomfortable seats, making it imposible to sleep like a normal person and it was full of Chinese teenagers eating McDonalds food! I'm never taking a night train again! - At least not with expectation to get some rest :)

For the part from Munich to Slovenia I'll be riding a car! Car sharing makes it so easy to get from one place to another these days. We start on late afternoon, so if everything goes by plan I should be home sometime tomorrow in the evening.

I must say 3 months passed by so fast. For me those are usualy toughest months of the year - long, grey, boring. But this year they just flew by. I came here in December, it feels like few weeks ago and now is already April! Time really flies when you have fun! :)

I have mixed feeling about going back home, though. Of course I miss my friends and my family and my cat :) But I also made some awesome friendships here. Aimee is already asking what will she do when I'm gone. We're plannig my comming back for a week in July and then spending together few weeks at my place in Slovenia. Can't wait for July to continue with our trips and crazy evenings!
I will also miss my host family, I'm sure. I heard a lot of stories from ex Au-pairs not getting along with families, but I must say a had a huge luck, as my host parents are awesome people :) And the baby is one cute little thing (I say this for all children, though)! It was an amazing experience to watch her grow every day. She was a small 4-months old baby when I got here and now she's starting to crawl and sit and she's laughing and giving kisses and repeating sounds,... And she just started to like me very much. Maybe it's a good thing she's too young to remember me, so she won't miss me so much as I will miss her!

Oh, ja, I learned some German! :) I'm not expert, of course, it takes a lot more than few months to get there. But I know basics, enough to buy food or ask what's the time.
And one more thing living here gave me - I became really interested in languege comparitions. Aimee wants to study it and we were talking a lot about that, comparing Englsih, German, French, Slovenian,.. I must say it really is an interesting topic. Plus I'm kind of good in recognizing langueges when I hear them ;)

Well .. it was an unforgetable experience. Even more than I expected. "Berlin is a place to live, not to visit" as someone once said to me. Must agree so much - is one of those places you have to experience, not just see. I will definitely be back some time in the future ... but for now ...

Bye, bye Berlin!

Mar 24, 2014

Soviet War Memorial Treptow

The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park is war memorial and military cemetery commemorating 5,000 of the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlin in April - May 1945. It was designed by Soviet architect Yakov Belopolsky and opend four years after Word War II (May 8th, 1949). The memorial served as the central war memorial in East Germany and is one of three Soviet memorials built in Berlin after the end of the war.

The focus of the ensemble is a 12-m tall statue of a Soviet soldier with a sword holding a child, standing over a broken swastika. Allegedly the statue commemorates the deeds of Nikolai Masalov, who during the final storm in the center of Berlin risked his life under German machine-gun fire, to rescue a three-years-old German girl.

Before the monoument is a central area lined in both sides by 16 stone sarcophagi, one for each of 16 Soviet Republics with relief of military scenes and quotations of J. Stalin in Russian and German. The area is final resting place for 5000 soldiers of Red Army.

At the opposite end of the central area is a portal build of red granite, consisting of a pair of stylized Soviet flags and flanked by two statues of kneeling soldiers.

Beyond the portal is another figure of a Motherland weeping at the loss of her sons.

Source: Wikipedia
Photos: JustJammin' © 2014

Mar 23, 2014

Bärenquell Brauerei (abandoned brewery)

Berlin has a lot of interesting abandoned buildings. I've already seen Güterbahnhof Pankow (old railroad yard) and Ballhaus Grünau few weeks ago. Today's destination was Bärenquell Brauerei, abandoned brewery in East Berlin. 

Bärenquell Brauerei first opend in 1882 as the Borussia Brauerei. In 1898 was bought and expanded by Schultheiss AG and after the war it came under state cotrol and was renamed the VEB Bärenquell (VEB stands for Volkseigener Betrieb, people-owned enterprise, although the people had nothing to do with it).

Bärenqueel proved to be one of Berlin's most popular beers and was renowned for its good taste (Bärenquell literally means Spring of Bears). By its time of the closure was one of the 'big four' with Kindl, Berliner Pilsner and Schultheiss.

Bärenquell Breuerei closed its doors for the last time 20 years from now, on April 1st 1994, after the 112 years of operation. Can you imagine how many beer is that? :)

Getting in was easier than I thought. Just climbe the low fence on the main entrance and you're in. The whole place screams: "Come in, you're invited!" And we were not the only one there. I think we met around 10 people - from children throwing stuff from the roof of tallest building (I have no idea why way that good for) to fancy girls on afternoon walk. 

The property is huge, with several buildings. Four hours wasn't enought to explore even half of the place, but still I did a lot of pictures - maybe too many :D Althought I would prefer having more time to sniff through every single dark corner of the place.

Exploring abandoned buildings is always an unique experience for me. Checking all the doors, finding hiden rooms, climbing on the roofs, ... and the part I like the most - imagining how it looked like before it was abandoned and ruined, with all the workers and machines and beer. And trying to answer on all the questions in my head - What is this? What was that for? Where do you get through this locked door? ... Yes, exploring is so much fun! Too bad we don't have many abandoned places in my hometown. I guess I will have to take advantage of every single (free) day left before I go home, to visit at least one more place like this. Or come back to Berlin very soon :)

Mar 17, 2014

Double decker buses, BW photobooths and worldwide candies

The time is flying by so fast (too fast) and I will be back home already in 3 weeks!! That means not much more time left to explore Berlin :( The plans for this weekend were to explore Berlin with Aimee (like the past few weeks), but the forecast was not really nice - cold and rainy. That means no outside exploring, but I didn't want to spend one of my last weekends at my room! We were thinking and thinking about alternative. The place should be inside and interesting, something where we can go for the whole day (and where we can bring our own food!). And then I remembered ... a BUS! In Berlin you can take a double decker bus on some regular lines all over the city and I had this on my 'Things to do list' anyway - to sit in the front on the top and just drive around the city, with view on the streets. The decision was made - a bus tour!

Well, afterall, when I got up on saturday morning, the weather was not so bad as they predicted. It was cloudy with strong wind, but no rain! And no rain means walks between rides are still possible! So we took a bus to Prenzlaur Berg where we planned to explore the streets on this part of the city for a while.

Driving with a double decker bus is kind of a special experience. Sitting in the front of the top floor it feels almost virtual. You sit so close to the window and you can see on the street and where the bus is moving, but you don't have a steering wheel, of course and you are not manipulate with the vehicle - kind of strange feeling!

If you are wondering what famous sightseeings we saw from the bus, I can't tell you much. We passes Victory Column and Reichstag (government building) on our way, but that's pretty much all. There is a special tourist city tour with double decker buses with a guide (for which you have to pay of course), arranged to drive you past all of the most known buildings and statues and  parks ... And also a lot of regular buses (which are for free if you have a montly/year ticket) passes most of this things on their lines. We could check the lines on the internet before and arrange our trip to see some of the sightseeings. But we didn't plan a true touristic tour and it is much more fun not knowing where are you driving and just watch the life going on under you on the street. There is still so much interesting going on, even without lots of famous statues ;)

Big Bike aka Bar on wheels :)

Riding with a double decker bus is fun! Even if you end up in the big parking lot (the end station of the bus!) somewhere in the middle of nowhere. And the timetable says you have to wait 20 minutes for the next bus to get you somewhere pretty clode to where you want to go. And when it passes more than 20 minutes and the bus still didn't show, you realize that the timetable is for weekdays and there is NO bus on saturday! Yes, it's fun, waiting for nothing! :)

At the end we found another bus station close to there and took the bus to our choosen destination - Prenzlauer Berg. I must say this part of the city is also nice. A lot of tall, beautiful old buildings and a lot of young families (and hipsters). And a pretty spot with a bench in the middle of the street, where we drink our cute sparkling wine :)

We bought this sparkling wine in Lidl earlier that day, just to try it. 
The taste is not really yummy, but it's also not bad - exceptable for the price. 
Plus the cans are really cute, that's why we bought them in the first place :)

One more cool thing you can find in this part of Berlin (and also in a lot of other parts) are black & white Photobooths! That was also on our 'Things to do list', so we said: "Let's do it now, why not!?" 2€ for 4 pictures or 2€ for unforgettable BW memory. The important part of this is to make those pictures funny as possible. If we would plan this before, we would probablly bring some accessories to make the pictures even more funnier, but just making funny faces is good as well :)

Photobooth ...
... and our pictures :)

But our number one destination in Prenzlauer Berg, the reason why we choose this neighborhood, was Sugafari (a candy shop)! I checked their website before to get the idea how the shop looks like and where is it, but of course I forgot to write down the adress (and of course I didn't remember it). And not having the adress of the building you are looking for in the big city is not very smart. So I must thank to my mom, who checked on the internet and sent me a text message and saved us from wandering around probablly for hours :)

So, what is Sugafari? A shop that specialises in importing sweets from all over the world. I just heard about it about a week ago and I really wanted to check it out. I like trying new things and a shop with candies from every part of the world sounded like something just for me (for us)!

Aimee infront of the Sugafari before the shopping ...
... and me after the shopping!

What can you buy in Sugafari? Everything from classic American sweets to weird Asian stuff. You can buy 5 different flavores of M&M's or Gummy body parts in liquid. And extra spicy Mexican candies, cute Singapore Panda cookies, Camel Balls gums, Chupa Chups lollipops with taste of Blue Heaven and Red Hell and more and more ...

"American sector"
... don't ask ...

The shop is kind of expencive, though, but that is kind of expected with imported sweets. We didn't want to buy the big, expensive packages of sweet, especially not classic American things (like mint Oreos, for which I am sure that are good, but 9€ for a (big) box is a bit too much). So our tactis was to choose some cheaper single packed candies, preferablly weird looking, just enough to try them. Altough the shop is small, they have a lot of stuff and it took us quite a long time to finnish our "little" shopping, but at the end we came out with a bag full of sweets from every continent.
Then we found a bench to sit, took all the food out of the bag and started tasting it. I must say this is a real fun, especially if you record (almost) the whole thing! Then you can have fun again later, watching your face while you've been eating an extra sour Pilule du Diable candy :D

Things from our shopping bag :)

We both prefered the cute Hello Panda cookies from Singapore (biscuits with a creamy strawberry filling). Aimee liked Szkloki, Polish (hard) candy, with rabarbar flavour. Argentinian Serenata de Amor (nut cream filled bombon with crunchy wafer) and New Zealandian Buzz (milk chocolate covered marshmallow) were also not bad for my taste. Far most gross was Mexican exxxtra spicy Atomic fire ball. I think the only thing we didn't finnish and trew away, because it was too much spicy for a candy (who would eat that as a sweet??). And Camel Balls gums (Spanish) were also one weird thing - strange looking and without any real taste (who would eat that also?). I coul try to list all of the things we bought, but I would definitely forget something. And you should try them by yourself, so let it be a surprise :)

If it ever happen that you pass the Sugafari on your walk in Prenzlauer Berg, you should go in and try some stuff - just be careful what you put in your basket! ;)

Blue Heaven - Red Hell