Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Potsdam

A couple weeks ago, I decided to cross an item off my Berlin must-see list and took a solo day-trip to Potsdam - another city with a ton of history from Prussian monarchs to GDR times. So sadly, it's not only the enormous garden around the Sanssouci palace, that catches your eye, but also the Soviet blocks scattered around town. But as it happens, the coolest part is always the unexpected, in Potsdam's case the Dutch quarter and it's rows of red little houses built for Dutch craftsmen in the 18th century. Perfect for a sucker for tiny little cafes like me. 




Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hiking in the Sudetes

On the border between Poland and the Czech Republic is a mountain range called the Sudetes. Honestly, I knew little of the area as I spontaneously joined some friends on a hiking trip there. We obviously picked the rainiest weekend to go, so the initial plan and an attempt quickly cancelled due to heavy rain (which made for some misty photos, though) to hike on Sunday was replaced with a nap and an evening stroll by the Mumlavsky/Mumlava (???) river and its beautiful waterfall where I just couldn't contain my excitement about skipping rocks in the water and ended up falling in, dipping my camera in the river and continuing the walk with soaked shoes and pants... :P

On Monday, the weather was somewhat better and we took a ski lift (by far the most exciting part of the trip!) up from a little town called Szklarska Poreba and hiked a tour of 15-20 kilometres. The cool part was that the Karkonosze National Park up there is literally on the Polish-Czech border. We didn't even notice walking by the little stone border markes until halfway through the hike. One of those was on top of a giant rock, which I absolutely HAD to climb, but seemed to be unable to without help. As a couple of other hikers had helped me up and down, I asked one of them where they're from and she answered: "Austria. But don't worry, I was a little scared too." :D





Saturday, June 3, 2017

Siegen, Germany

As some of you might know, I'm currently doing an internship program at the German Parliament called Internationales Parlaments-Stipendium. As much as it's an awesome program, it is also keeping me crazy busy at all times, which is probably why this page has seen no action pretty much since the start of it. Nevertheless, I've finally found some time and pictures to start the mission of recording this 5-month experience of this blog, starting with my Wahlkreisreise.

Namely, a few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit my boss' electoral district. As the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has largely remained an unexplored part of Germany for me, it was a good coincidence that this trip took me to Siegen. Proper to NRW, Siegen is also big on industry, but still has a beautiful little old town area, where I took these pictures. I had no idea that the architecture in that region is so much different from what I'm used to in the south! I also loved the kind of a nordic vibe that the grey-white buildings had.










Saturday, March 11, 2017

Prague, Czech Republic

There are always these places that seem so close that I could visit them every other weekend, but in reality I somehow end up going everywhere else but there. When I lived in Estonia, it was Vilnius (I still need to go there!). In Konstanz, it's Strasbourg, Milan and Prague. Countless times I started planning a trip to the Czech capital, but it never worked out. Until now! Celebrating Matt's brother's first time in Europe, we decided to try to show him as much as possible and what better way to do it than a roadtrip - Konstanz, M├╝nchen, Prague and Berlin! It was such a fun time, the best possible way to move (oh yea, I live in Berlin now!) and all in all a good route to see very different cities.

Since I've been waiting for this trip forever, I had the time to develop tons of expectations on Prague. Sadly, the last weeks in Konstanz were so busy, that I hardly had the time to do the research, which I usually do very (very!) throughly. But since it was the first time in Prague for all of us, it was perfectly fine to check out all the famous sights from Charles Bridge to Prague Castle to John Lennon wall and so on. What shocked me was how touristy the historic centre was - tacky souvenir shops, overpriced restaurants and umbrella-waving tour guides everywhere. And that was in February... Thus, even though Prague is stereotypically the cheaper destination in Central Europe, this takes quite a bit of work to actually find. Now add a completely different language and constant calculations with the local currency to the pot and you get the idea of how confused we were. But we made it work and I definately plan on going back to the beautiful city some time when I can enjoy the delicious beer outside in the middle of these beautiful views (and selfie sticks). 

Tips from our experience with Prague:
1. If you go by car, exchange money ahead of time so that you can buy the highway sticker on the border without having to choose between the horrible price in Euros or the worst exchange rate offered in the country. 
2. Speaking of currency exchange, the best rate we got was from the Sparkasse (only relevant for people coming from Germany, I suppose) ATMs using the rate offered by our home bank. Kind of risky since you won't know the rate when you pull out cash, but worked out for us.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH. It's easy to get lost and hangry in the middle of everyone trying to sell you something when you don't know what you're doing. Next time I'll try to make a list of places to eat, so that we can just head straight to a known place instead of looking for a restaurant with empty stomachs. 
4. Public transport is awesome. It takes you anywhere, saves your energy for the evening beers instead of walking all day and has reasonable pricing (we used day passes). As a bonus, you can ride these crazy long escalators to the subway. 
5. Enjoy the free views. We paid to get into the "Eiffel tower" viewing platform, but I found the views from the Castle equally as nice. In the evening, get some drinks and head up to the Metronome for the view and some more authentic environment with tons of young people. 
6. Eat those sweet roll things. I read that they aren't even Czech. I don't care what they are, they were awesome. 

Oops, I didn't plan on writing so much in this post. Here's some photo material. Since I honestly plan on going back sooner rather than later, all recommendations for Prague are welcome! Maybe I'll even manage to read some Kafka before the next trip. 






Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Walking on the Bodensee

Konstanz, that usually gets fog and rain instead of real winter weather, has been extremely cold with temperatures reaching -10 degrees Celsius at night this January. Even though it has made life for nutters like me who just won't give up commuting by bike that easily kind of a pain, last Saturday made it all worth it. For a week or so, the lake between Hegne (a 5-minute train ride from town) and the island of Reichenau has been frozen enough to allow people on it. I honestly never have and never expected to see anything like this around here, ever... On top of that, Saturday was also the first warmer day after the weeks of cold, meaning: we got to enjoy a 5km walk on ice in the sun. 

P.S. I don't know if anyone besides me notices it, but thanks to Matt's computer magic here, I am now fully independent in my photo hosting and can thus post them here larger and in full quality. :D

P.P.S. Yes, that is a pan throwing competition on the last picture.