Berlin day 6,7,8


This is going to be a hurried entry, because I have to catch a bus in an hour out to Gut-Stolzenhagen to spend a week in the countryside at Ponderosa. I’m taking a dance workshop! There will be no internet! I’m afraid about being isolated, but I think ultimately it will be a good thing.


On Thursday, Elliat and I went to Cottbus, which is where her university is. It was a dreary rainy day, but it was still fun to explore the town.









When we got back to Berlin, we ventured out to check out the bar scene and went to a bar called Silver Future.








Friday I mostly hung around doing nothing, but I did manage to take a yoga class.

Yesterday we ventured out to the ruins of the Olympic Village that the Nazi’s built for the 1936 Olympics. Some of Elliat’s classmates were doing a video projection project there.





















_JMP3884-2smallThis will be my last entry for a week, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about when I get back to Berlin.


Berlin, day 5

Yesterday I didn’t wake up until 11 AM. This is very unusual for me, but I’m trying to cut myself some slack. I’ve been having the most vivid, symbolic dreams since I arrived in Berlin. One night, I dreamed that various scary creatures kept appearing from behind the walls- one of these was a giant worm like thing, and I climbed up high between two walls and refused to come down until someone killed it.

Last night I dreamed that there were baby alligators behind the headboard of my bed. I asked my mom to move them outside, and when I came back the entire bed was gone and in its place was a giant pit where GIANT alligators were writhing over each other. People kept walking by and falling into the pit and getting eaten. These dreams are kind of freaking me out, to be honest.

So I woke up late. The first order of business was a long overdue grocery store trip. I’ve had some money drama since arriving in Berlin- way fewer places take my credit card than I anticipated, which means I’ve needed to have cash. However, my bank debit card got compromised the night before I was supposed to leave the country, and I only have a Paypal debit card at my disposal. Which works, but it takes a full 5 DAYS for money to transfer from my bank to Paypal. At least 2 of those days the money has disappeared from my bank account and is floating in some hinterland before I get access to it through Paypal. It is a complete pain in the ass.

So Elliat has been taking pity on me and feeding me since I got here. I was happy to be able to buy her groceries in return.

Weird billboard on the way to the store. German cowboy!



Elliat models some meatballs in a jar.




Weird kid’s meat shaped like animals.




After the grocery store, I decided to bike around some more. I passed this sculpture on the way.



I decided to bike back to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe to see the museum they had under the memorial.


After a thoroughly depressing hour, I decided to bike through Tiergarten park. Mostly, I wanted to cheer myself up by finding the  infamous “nudist lawn” where people sunbathe naked.


Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism, which is on the edge of Tiergarten.





I biked all through the park, getting hopelessly lost. I didn’t find the nudists until 7:15, right before I had to leave to go meet some friends. And there were only 3 of them left, as it was getting cooler outside.

I biked back towards Elliat’s neighborhood to meet her, Tess, and some of Tess’s friends at this crazy hipster bar called Klunkerkranich which was on top of a parking garage.









The sunset was beautiful and it was basically the BEST for people watching and people photos. The also had a lot of edible plants growing in crates and various structures throughout the bar and on the ramp up to the top of the parking garage. I don’t care how hipster it is, it was gorgeous.












Elliat, sniffing the plants on the way out of the bar. This photo makes me laugh every time I look at it.


Today I am spending the day with Elliat in Cottbus, which is where her university is, south of Berlin. We took a lovely train ride here and I think we are going to explore the campus and eat some famous pickles.

Berlin, day 4

On Tuesday I got up relatively early (I’ve been sleeping in late a lot in Berlin) to bike to the meeting place for my guided bike tour. I went with Tess, an American I met in Paris. Alas, when I arrived I realized that I forgot to bring a memory card for my camera, so all of my photos from the day are sadly crappy cell phone shots.

Our ride started out at the Fernsehturm Berlin, which is the TV tower that was build in the 60s. I love how retro futuristic it is. It is the tallest structure in Germany.



This is looking towards Museum Island.




This is Humboldt University, which is the site of the 1933 Nazi book burning.

A plaque at the book burning monument, with a quote from an 1820 work by Heinrich Heine: “Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen” (“That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they ultimately burn people”).


This was an underground room containing enough empty shelves to house 20,000 books.





Checkpoint Charlie! This was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. Now it is a silly tourist trap where you can have your picture taken with American “guards.” Hilarious.




The Berlin Wall. On the tour I learned that they basically constructed the first version of this wall (which was basically a giant fence) in one night while people were sleeping. The next day, 65,000 people who lived in East Berlin but worked in West Berlin lost their jobs when they were unable to leave East Berlin.




The East German watchtower on Potsdamer Platz. This is the only surviving watchtower from which guards could sniper you if you tried to cross over into West Berlin.



This doesn’t look like much more than a parking lot, but apparently underneath this parking lot is where Hitler’s bunker was during WWII, and where he spent the last months of his life.



The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I’ve noticed that the Germans don’t mess around with words.



After all of that history, we biked through Tiergarten park and to the beer garden where we would have lunch. I had shnitzel and hefeweizen, and a delicious cheese filled pastry.



Reichstag Building




Brandenburg Gate, former city gate built in the 1800s.



This is the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled a baby from the balcony- just in case you were wondering.


Overall, the tour was about 5.5 hours and then I biked back home to Elliat’s. I spent the entire day biking and it felt so good! I think orange bike and I have overcome our differences and have found a symbiosis with each other. After all of that running around, I spent the night in relaxing. This cold is taking its sweet time moving through my system.

Berlin day 3

Yesterday I spent most of the day trying to recover from my cold, but I did manage to bike myself out to Mitte (the city center) to get some dinner with my friend from Columbia, Marcia. We ate outside and enjoyed the nightlife. Marcia is kind of amazing- she speaks Spanish, French, and English, and is also a civil engineer.




I biked home in the dark (with no lights, like a terrible cyclist), using my loud GPS from my phone to guild me.

Today was supposed to start with a 4 hour bike tour of the city, but I had some transportation issues. I’m borrowing a beautiful orange bike from Juli (Elliat’s roommate), but the bike has some quirks that I am still learning. Last night, the seat kept moving back and forth at random, hurling me forward or backward and strangulating my crotch. This morning (after fixing the seat issue) the back wheel completely locked up. Juli showed me her magic trick to unlock it, and I was able to reschedule my bike tour for tomorrow.

Elliat and I spent the first part of the day in a cafe getting work done- she, doing legitimate work, and me- buying train and bus tickets for the last month of my journey.

We then went out on the bikes and went to Columbiabad, which is a giant public pool and park.



The ice cream from this stand was legitimately one of the most satisfying things I’ve eaten on this trip.


We then biked to one of my favorite places I’ve been to on this trip- Tempelhof Park, which used to be Tempelhof Airport. The airport shut down in 2008, and they turned it into a GIANT park. Brilliant! You can now bike/rollerblade/fly kites/drink beer, etc. on the old runways. I can’t express how delighted I am with this place.


There is also a section that is a giant community garden where people have build all sorts of different structures to sit/lay on. People were mostly having dinner party gatherings in all of the various spaces.




Looking towards the airport and the bird sanctuary. Oh yeah- they also created a bird sanctuary.





This was a bicycle movie theater in the middle of another park, Volkspark Hasenheide.


Overall, this day was exactly what I needed- some relaxing, some nature, getting on a bike- I feel refreshed and happy and (almost) recovered from my cold.

Berlin, day 1 and 2

After the Louvre, I got on a Eurolines bus headed for Berlin. I made a lovely friend from Columbia, Marcia, who kept me company on the 16 hour trek to Berlin. Sleeping on a bus (especially with a cold or whatever plague I have managed to catch) is quite challenging but definitely not the worst experience I’ve had. We arrived around 9 AM and I was able to help Marcia find her way to the hostel via the metro and also get myself to where I am staying, with a friend, Elliat. I actually don’t know Elliat that well yet (she’s the niece of Pat, the choreographer I work with in Seattle), but so far she’s fucking fabulous. She’s been so generous with her space/time/food, etc. that I could cry.

I was pretty tired and groggy (and sick) most of the day, but it was perfect nonetheless. It was Elliat’s roommate Juli’s birthday yesterday, so we spent the day eating and playing mini golf. The mini-golf place was amazing- it was straight out of the 1960/70s and not very crowded at all. As it was 90 degrees F here yesterday, we spent some quality time hanging out in the kiddie pool.




We got Vietnamese food for dinner and then walked home. I’m staying on Sonnenelee, south east of the center of Berlin.



Being in Berlin has been a little emotionally challenging so far and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because the neighborhood I’m staying in is much less touristy than Paris, thus making it more intimidating to a foreigner who doesn’t speak the language. Maybe it’s because a lot of places here don’t take my credit card (and I’m waiting for funds to be available on my debit card, which makes me feel pretty stuck/unable to do things.) Maybe it’s just because I’m sick and a little weary of traveling. Whatever the case, I’m finding myself feeling a little bit paralyzed today. Other traveling people have described to me that terrified feeling of not being able to leave the place you are staying, and I am definitely experiencing that a little bit now.


I think tomorrow I might try to take a bike tour of the city to get more comfortable and acquainted with things.

Paris, day 4

So today is actually July 20th, but the days have gotten away from me so I’m splitting these blog posts up into some different sections for the sake of clarity.

Thursday the 17th was a total wash. I woke up feeling very sick, and mostly spent the day editing photos, doing research on the computer, and napping. It was sad to lose a full day in Paris, but I’m trying to learn my lesson about pushing myself too far and too hard. I don’t have the greatest immune system in general and I think traveling is hard on even the heartiest people.

I left my room exactly once, to go downstairs to the crappy “Belushi’s” bar and eat some lunch, where I was sexually harassed by a man who only spoke French. I should have blown some nasty snot in his face, but alas- you never actually think of these things in the moment when you feel threatened/grossed out.

I spent the night having fever dreams/night sweats, and my fever broke some time around 2 or 3 AM.

Friday was a slow start, but I made my way to the Louvre with a couple of nice girls from California as company. The Louvre is intense- there is pretty much absolutely no way to see everything in a day, but I did spent a good 5-6 hours in there trying in vain to pull the memories of my seemingly far away art education out of my brain. I took photos of the most notable works and also some of my favorites. For the most part I felt weird taking photos, so I was much more sparse than what I actually saw. I’ve always loved the Eugène Delacroix paintings, but they were so huge there was no way to properly capture them.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

The Mona Lisa! (This was as close as I could get to her. I loved watching the crowds of people try to get in close and take “selfies” with the painting).

The Venus de Milo

Me and Athena


The fall of Icarus, from Merry-Joseph Blondel, 1819


The Young Martyr, Paul Delaroche

Leonardo da Vinci, St. John the Baptist

Anne-Louis Girodet, Burial of Atala

Francisco de Goya, Portrait of Luis María de Cistué y Martínez (1788–1842), known as El niño azul (The Boy in Blue)

Ingres, Grande Odalisque

Ingres, Mademoiselle Riviere

Louise Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun, Madame Vigee Lebrun and her daughter, Jeanne Lucie Louise

Antonio Canova, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss


And finally, a collaborative contemporary art piece created by the tourists and museum goers-



I have to say, a lot of history (and history as reflected in art) really depresses me. I grow weary of the ever-present story of patriarchal societies battling each other for power, control, and resources. I grow tired of mainly wealthy (white) men being what is represented. I feel irritated with religious superstition and holy wars.  Mostly, the more I study our collective history, the more saddened and doomed I feel for humanity. People are pretty much the worst.

My host in Berlin reminded me that not all of history is recorded, and that those in power are those who get to decide our collective “story,” or what is passed down. I am inspired to seek out some alternative histories of underrepresented people doing incredible things- at least to make myself feel better.

Paris, day 3

Yesterday I got a later start than I would have liked, as I’ve been having a hard time waking up and having energy (this should have told me something, if I was listening). I decided to head to the Eiffel Tower, just to knock it off the list. I went, I looked at it, I looked at the very long lines to get up to the top of it- and I left.


Afterwards I wandered along the Seine, looking at all of the museums and finally deciding to go to the Musée d’Art Moderne.




After a snack and a rest in the museum cafe, I decided to go explore the Montmartre area. The first stop was the Montmartre Cemetery where I wandered aimlessly, well aware that some famous people were buried there but remaining blissfully ignorant of who.


And then I stumbled upon Nijinsky’s grave!


It seems to be a theme for me on this trip- following cats around and visiting cemeteries. So imagine how delighted I was to find that this cemetery was home to some cats.






I continued to wander around and climb the many stairs and hills to get to the top of Montmartre, to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur where there was an amazing view (probably better than the Eiffel Tower, I’d say) of the city.




I had a late dinner at Cafe de L’Industrie with my friend from the bus, Amin. I actually tried escargot and blood sausage. The escargot was served in a sort of garlic pesto sauce, which made it easy to forget that you were eating snails.





Sadly, today I am feeling pretty sick. I think I got really dehydrated with all of the walking yesterday, and I’ve had a bad sort throat and body aches all day. I have literally done nothing today except eat breakfast. My goal for the day is to take a shower eventually and then wander over to a food market and get something healthy to eat (and maybe go find a park to eat it in.) This is depressing because this means there’s quite a bit in Paris that I’m not going to get to see- but I’m also realizing that I can’t keep going at the pace I’ve been going at, because clearly my body is unhappy with it.

Tomorrow is my last day here before I catch an overnight bus (leaving at 7:30 PM) to go to Berlin. I definitely don’t want to be sick on the bus, so resting today is even more important.

Paris/France day 1 and 2

Yesterday I left London at 11 AM on a bus bound for Paris. It was roughly an 8 hour ride, including a ferry ride across the English channel.


Approaching France

On the ferry I treated myself to a latte and a flake candy bar. (Or actually, a whole jumbo sized bag of them).

My bus friend actually bought my metro pass for me because the machine wouldn’t take my non-chipped card and then escorted me to my first train connection- he and I are going to try to get together for coffee or something later in the week.

I also made another 5 minute friend on my second train who escorted me the rest of the way to my hostel.

So far this hostel is immensely nicer than the one in London- It’s larger, cleaner, and surprisingly quieter despite the constant party atmosphere downstairs. When I arrived I went up to my 8 female dorm room and discovered that everyone was out for the evening. I didn’t figure out until later that it was because yesterday was Bastille Day. Nevermind that I missed the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower- I had blissful peace and quiet and a very long hot shower. Although, showers here are very funny things. There’s always something that goes just a little bit wrong. In this case, the bathroom has motion sensor lights that are only activated from the front of the bathroom- the showers are in the back. About 4 or 5 times I was left naked, wet, and soapy in complete darkness. I think the universe is conspiring to try to keep me as filthy as possible.

The beds here are actually nice. They have a curtain for privacy, a reading light, a variety of plugs and charging options- it’s like my own little secret cave.



There was some drama my first night here when, around 1 am- I was woken up by a girl claiming that I was in her bed. Apparently the check in desk messed up our bed assignments, or the other people in my room (who are quite rude and annoying, sadly) messed up the bed assignments. In any case, I may have made a friend out of it- the girl, Tess- is really cool and we figured out we are both going to be in Berlin at the same time.


The next morning after another night of not really sleeping, I was out of the hostel by 6:45 AM to catch the metro to meet my tour group for the day. My heart has been yearning to get out into the countryside, so I did a major splurge (which will leave me skipping some lunches and possibly hoarding hard boiled eggs again, but it was so worth it) and went on a tour of the Loire Valley. This included a tour of 2 major chateaus and a lunch and wine tasting at a 3rd.


Château de Chambord, slightly under renovation

The was apparently the “manly” hunting chateau, build for François I- who seemed like a total douchebag if you ask me.







These sunflowers were planted for the Tour de France.





For lunch and wine we stopped at Château de Nitray, which is currently privately owned.







After lunch we went to my favorite chateau, Château de Chenonceau.




This family was carrying their dog around, just the this-



My most favorite part of this chateau were the grounds and gardens, planted by Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici.




After a second wine tasting, we had some time to explore on our own. I found a labyrinth and then these beautiful woods where I could escape from the crowds of people and get lost.



London day 6

Last night was terrible. I was in bed by 11, trying desperately to get an early start today. I laid awake until nearly 2 AM listening to the irregular pounding of music from some club nearby, and also to the screaming of the other hostel guests as they came home from whatever pathetic display of fuckery they had engaged in that night. People entered and left my room in random spurts, speaking in loud drunken voices the whole time.

Needless to say, I didn’t wake up until 11 AM (somehow I was still one of the last people sleeping this morning).

I mostly spent the day doing laundry, doing more travel planning and budget logistics, and meandering around with Liam. I finished off the day with a Jack the Ripper walking tour.








I’ve noticed that I’m actually starting to be comfortable navigating London- I find myself knowing where I am without pulling out the phone, being able to give other tourists directions- it is so satisfying. Tomorrow I’m off to Paris, but I look forward to coming back here at the end of August (and staying in a different hostel this time!)

London day 4 and 5

Yesterday I got up fairly early and took a dance class at The Place. It felt so good to move in a purposeful big way again after feeling shoved into small beds and small spaces.

After some lunch, I went to explore Camden Town, which was nuts and exploding with people.


I took refuge from the crowds in a cute tea shop.


My friend Liam from Australia (who I met in Iceland) ended up coming to London earlier than he originally planned, so we got to hang out and continue exploring Camden and the many food offerings and entertainers.






I found Draco Malfoy! (Well, close enough.)




Here’s a continuation of my People of the Subway series, the London edition. I don’t know why, but I just love taking pictures of people on public transport.





People like to drink on the street here. This is a few doors down from my hostel.



While talking about my hostel, I’d like to take a moment to complain a little bit more- this place is truly terrible and I can’t wait to get out of here. A few mornings ago I woke up to discover that a mouse (or some other rodent creature) had chewed a hole in my suitcase during the night and ate some almonds I had forgotten were in there. Normally, I am a fan of creatures of all kinds- as long as they aren’t sneakily chewing holes in my belongings in the middle of the night, a few short feet from my face.

The wifi (that actually works that you have to pay for) hasn’t been working pretty much the entire time that I’ve been here. This means that the teeny tiny lobby (the only place that the “free” wifi works) is constantly full of people trying to Skype with their grandma or text their BFF. If I want to post pictures or do anything on the internet I’m lucky to find a tiny place to maybe sit where I can be surrounded by other people and their loud conversations constantly. This is pretty much an introvert’s nightmare.

This morning I tried to take a shower- I got into the shower stall and discovered that there was literally no water. None at all. Eventually I was able to move to another bathroom where the water worked sometimes, sputtering on and off at random moments, scalding and freezing me as it did.

My 15 other roommates are alright, except they leave their smelly clothes everywhere (maybe they have as much trouble with the shower as I did).

Clearly, I would not survive in another century or a third world country, though I’d like to think I could get over it and adapt. I just really hate being dirty and uncomfortable. This is why I don’t do things like go camping or live with other people. HA!


Last night I had the pleasure of going to a Kate Bush themed dance party/performance at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Since I don’t really know any other Kate Bush fans here (Liam was too tired from his traveling), I ventured out by myself. It’s always interesting doing these sorts of things by yourself- you really get to discover how comfortable or uncomfortable you are in your own skin. Turns out, I was both.

They had a DJ who played lots of Kate Bush (of course) but also other amazing music, mostly consisting of the things I would listen to at home by myself- I felt ecstatic being in a group of other people who appreciate this music.

They also had Kate-themed performances throughout the evening, including some burlesque, people acting out the music videos (Army Dreamers was especially hilarious), Kate Bush karaoke time, and a giant group dance to Wuthering Heights (which of course I participated in). There was also a costume contest and I was kicking myself for not packing my Babooshka costume from years ago.

I’ll be back in London on August 30th to see Kate Bush in concert. She hasn’t performed since 1979, and I’m so excited I might piss myself.







I got back to the Hostel at 2 AM (the lobby was full of people), and crashed in my mostly empty room- the rest of my roommates still out partying.


Today after a late start and an awesome hot breakfast, I met up with Liam for another free walking tour.

Monument to the Great Fire of London


St. Paul’s Cathedral


After the tour we had some beers at The Centre Page, a pub that has been there in one way or another since 1660. We got some fish and chips to go and ate them on the Thames.



Tomorrow is my last full day in London until I come back at the end of August.