Emily Lisa

Joined May 2018
  • Day73

    Toledo

    August 10, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 34 °C

    When we woke up Naomi was sadly still feeling very sick. We checked out of our hostel room and booked a bed in another room for Naomi to spend the day resting and recovering in. Grant and I spent the day doing a day trip to Toledo since round trip bus tickets from Madrid were only 10 euro a person. When we got to Toledo we realized that neither of us downloaded any offline maps for Toledo beforehand. We had to pretty aimlessly wander for a bit until we found a McDonald’s that we mooched the WiFi off of to download some maps. Our lives dramatically improved once we had maps downloaded. I have no idea how people used to travel without modern technology! When we were finally able to navigate places we went to Alcazar to see a nice view of the city. We then went to the Santa Cruz museum which had a bunch of old artifacts of the city and the Santa Fe Convent. The convent was pretty but the whole thing was hard to follow since all the signs were in Spanish. After we were done attempting to understand the museum we got a tasty lunch of tapas and tinto de verano at la tabernita! When we were done munching away we went to the Toledo cathedral which is probably the biggest attraction of the city. The cathedral is the fourth largest cathedral in the world and everything inside was incredibly ornate and intricate. It was originally built by Muslims but the Catholics took it from them. This seemed to be a common theme in the city that the Muslims were the only ones who knew how to build anything, and the Catholics stole from everyone. The coexistence of Muslims, Jews, and Catholics play a critical role in the cities history. Included with the tickets were tablet audioguides in English which helped us navigate the cathedral and understand what we were looking at. It was a bit extra at times with dramatic music and high praises given to everything in the cathedral, but it was still nice to have. The cathedral also had an impressive art collection with pieces by famous painters such as Greco and Velasquez. My favorite thing in the cathedral was the monstrance which was the first thing ever made of gold brought back from Christopher Columbus’ first expedition to the Americas. The monstrance was so shiny and ornate! I want one! When we were done visiting the cathedral we made our way over to the Jewish district. In the Jewish district we first saw the synagogue del transito. This was a Muslim built building which is very apparent in the design of the wooden ceiling. The building was then a synagogue and then a free museum. Our next stop was at the synagogue Santa Maria la Blanca which, surprise surprise, was built by Muslims. It then became a synagogue and then as a stable for the Catholics. The synagogue was strikingly white on the inside. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a room more blindingly white which is very impressive since it shows that a lot of effort must have been made for its restoration. We spent a euro for the audioguide of the synagogue which was laughably terrible. There were only 4 stops in the audioguide and it was completely unnecessary to walk between them because nothing discussed was location specific. At least it only cost a euro! We ended our visit by going to the Alcantara bridge to enjoy the views of the city. We were very sweaty by the time we reached the bridge but the bridge was at least partially shaded. And you know what they say, the next best thing to a fully shaded bridge is a partially shaded bridge! We then took the bus back to Madrid. Upon our return to Madrid we attempted to go to Marks favorite bar only to find out that it was closed for this month. Sad! We then bought burritos to bring back to Naomi at the hostel. When leaving the hostel we decided to save money and take the metro to the train station instead of a train. This turned into a bit of a stressful endeavor because we just barely missed the metro when we got to the station and were worried about making it to our train in time. When we got to the train station we literally sprinted all around the station to get to our track. Luckily we made it on time to board our overnight train to Lisbon! It helped that we had to wait in a long line to get our tickets checked, but that also meant that sprinting was unnecessary which was a bit sad to discover. I wasn’t sure what the train was going to be like when I booked it, and when we got on we discovered that we were in chairs instead of beds, and that the lights were on. At least we saved money and safely boarded the train to sleepy time junction and will wake up in Lisbon!Read more

  • Day71

    Madrid

    August 8, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    When we arrived in Madrid we checked into our hostel and then decided to get our grub on! I was extremely hungry because I didn’t have dinner the night prior since I felt nauseous due to my migraine. We got lunch at a place called Cien Montaditos per Marks recommendation and it was a magical experience! On Wednesday’s they have a deal where each sandwich is only a euro. I got 5 sandwiches which perfectly hit the spot and were all delicious! This was probably the best cheap food that I’ve ever had. I also got a drink called tinto de vernano which is wine, gassy water, and lemon for only 1,5 euro! This is basically the more authentic version of sangria and it was delicious. I was so blown away by how little I spent for such good food! We then decided to celebrate the Spanish lifestyle and take a siesta for two hours. When we woke up Grant and I did a free walking tour and Naomi stayed back because she wasn’t feeling well. The tour was nice and covered a lot of history. We saw many important sites like plaza mayor, Botín which is the oldest restaurant in the world, the cathedral, and the palace. After the tour we attempted to meet up with Naomi at a place called Museo de Jamon, but realized after she left that it had multiple locations. This was bad because she doesn’t have texting or data and resulted in us accidentally going to different locations. We eventually figured out this blunder and were able to find each other after Naomi went back to the hostel to use the WiFi to message me. Once we finally met up we walked around and shopped for a bit until our free hostel dinner. After our hostel dinner Naomi decided to call it a night since she was feeling sick, and Grant and I played drinking games and went to a bar/club with the hostel. The hostel somehow managed to get all of us open bar at the club for an hour which blew my mind. The alcohol wasn’t even low quality so we easily could have made back the cost of the hostel for a night from the free drinks we had. I still have no idea how that was possible but I wasn’t complaining! We then danced at the club for a few hours with some friends we made at the hostel. It was a ton of fun and I am still shook that I paid less than 10 euro for all the food and drinks I had the entire day! We got back to the hostel around 3 am and called it a night. The hostel we stayed at, Sungate One, is probably my favorite hostel I’ve stayed at so far with great facilities and fun activities. Also having a private air conditioned room for the three of us was a big perk. We slept in a bit the next day to recover from our late night. We then decided to start our day walking around the famous Mercado de San Miguel. The market itself was really petty and cool to see, but was very pricey for Madrid standards so we decided to just get juice and dessert here. The desserts we got were beautiful looking small cakes that were also really tasty! After leaving the market we went to a supermarket to buy picnic food for lunch. We had our picnic in Retiro Park which was great, especially since there were benches for me to avoid sitting in the grass. Retiro Park is massive with many different things like free art exhibits to check out. We only explored a small portion of the park, but what we saw was beautiful. Next, we went to the Prado Museum which has the third largest art collection in the world. We were pleasantly surprised to discover upon arrival that the museum is free for any students under the age of 25! At the museum was one of Naomi’s favorite paintings of all time, the garden of earthly delights. The painting was really interesting and had a lot going on and it was exciting for Naomi to see it in person. Another highlight of the museum was seeing apparently the most valuable version of the Mona Lisa. People don’t realize that there is also a Mona Lisa in the Prado so this one did not have large crowds like at the Louvre. I wanted to take a picture with it but apparently you aren’t allowed to, sad. My favorite piece we saw was probably this marble statue of a woman wearing a veil. I was very impressed with how the artist made this veiled face all by chiseling marble. After spending four hours exploring the museum we went to Marks favorite restaurant, Tabernas Maceiras, for a tapas dinner! There we shared a bottle of white Albariño, a cheese platter, pimientos de padrón, mejillones, bisteck, and pulpo. All were absolutely delicious and it was a great treat yo self meal! After dinner we decided to go back to the hostel for a chill night of watching the final episode of the bachelorette since Naomi wasn’t feeling well. After watching the episode I discovered that I won the bach bracket! Woo victory is mine!! When we were done watching the episode we went to sleep and enjoyed our last night in a private room. We were luckily able to for the most part avoid the August heat during our stay which was a pleasant surprise. I liked Madrid a lot and am still impressed with how much bang you can get for your buck in the city!Read more

  • Day69

    Barcelona

    August 6, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    If I were to describe Barcelona in one word it would be CHEETAHLICIOUS! We decided it was about time for a cheetah girls 2 remake so we begun our Europe travels with Grant in Barcelona. We all took a buzzfeed quiz to assign our cheetah girl role. According to the quiz I was Chanel, Grant was Aqua, as Naomi was Deondre. All we were missing was Galleria aka Raven Simons character, but she wasn’t even in the third movie so we were going strong without her. Throughout our visit we rewatched the movie which actually did a pretty good job showing many iconic areas of the city! After meeting up and checking into our hostel we went to get brunch nearby. The food was tasty and the bathrooms had interesting soap dispensers that were just pots that you stuck your hands in to get soap. I loved it because it made me feel like Winnie the Pooh reaching his hand in his jar of honey! We then walked to Park Güell which was pretty difficult in the Barcelona summer heat. Once we got there we found out that tickets to the Gaudí section were sold out so we were only able to go in the free area. The free part of the park was still beautiful with a great view of the city. We hung out and people watched at the top of the park for a while. We had fun watching one guy continuously ask his brother to take pictures of him doing the same pose, look at the picture, and try again for a really long time. We were impressed with his brothers patience and shocked when he shooed his mom away when she wanted in on one of the pictures. We also had a lot of fun watching a little girl have a blast dancing to a live musician. When we were done people watching in the park we went back to the hostel for free paella for dinner. The paella was delicious and we made friends with a nice group of Canadians while eating. We then joined our hostels night events when we were done eating. We started at a bar with mojitos that only cost 3.50 euro which I was a huge fan of since they are my favorite drink and they usually cost more. At the bar we even found one guy from our hostel who was willing to call himself Galleria and own the role as the final cheetah girl. The cheetah girls are back and better than ever! After the bar we went to a club. Grant, Naomi, and I were having a blast being goofy and dancing around! We tried to get the Canadians to dance with us which they did but they definitely felt less comfortable dancing like idiots than we did. The walk back from the club to our hostel was very tiring since we apparently did about 4 miles of dancing according to our fitness app! We got back around 3 am and crashed instantly since we were all tired from a long day of travel, especially Grant who was also jet-lagged. The next day we woke up just in time to go to the free walking tour of old town hosted by or hostel, Barcelona 360. Our tour was a lot of fun with our great tour guide, Juan, who had may stories. We started our tour by drinking from a water fountain on Las Ramblas that has a legend that if you drink from it you will move to Barcelona. I guess it’ll all make sense if I ever decide to be a permanent cheetah girl in the future! Throughout our tour we learned a lot about Catalan culture. We saw the only free Picasso which depicted two big Catalan traditions. The first is Sardana which is a traditional dance where people hold hands and dance in the streets. The other is Castell which is a people stacking contest every year. Each year different groups of people form teams to compete to stack each other up as high as possible with a child at top holding up 4 fingers to represent the 4 blood stripes of the Catalan flag. The tradition is dangerous, one year there were 20 people who died during a fall so now they put in measures to make sure it is much safer with having a human net to catch any falls. Castell looks very interesting and would be fascinating to see one day! Another highlight that we learned during our tour is about their Christmas traditions. They have a traditional statue of a pooping man that they hide in the nativity scene who represents someone making the soil fertile. If you find the statue you are said to have good luck for the next year! They also don’t do Santa and instead have another poop themed tradition. Each of the kids find a log in the woods and draws a face on it. Each day candies get added inside the log. On Christmas morning the kids hit their log with a stick and sing a song asking the log to poop candies and not sardines. After this is done the kids eat the logs “poop” (candy) and also receive presents that were hidden under a blanket. We saw a video of the whole thing which is very bizarre and funny. The Catalan people seem to have a lot of funny traditions and a rich culture! After the tour we went to La Boqueria for lunch which is the famous market on Las Ramblas. We had food from a Catalan food stand and fruit juice to drink which was nice after a long and hot walking tour. We also bought a cone of meats even though our tour guide warned us that the ham was low quality. It just looked too tasty to resist! It was our cone of shame, but we still enjoyed it! When we were done at the market we took the metro to the other side of the city to the labyrinth park. The highlight of the park was a big maze made of hedges. Grant had never done any kind of human sized maze before including corn mazes so we had him lead the way. I had fun taking pictures of him being sad whenever we reached a dead end and happy when we successfully found the middle. The park was also more than just the maze with many beautiful areas to walk around and see. It was very quiet and non-touristy which was great but not too surprising since it is a bit away from city center. When we were done at the park we went back to the main part of the city to go to Barceloneta Beach. We were warned to avoid that beach since it’s the most touristy beach but we figured that since it was late in the afternoon it would be fine so we went anyway as it was the closest beach. The beach was nice but still surprisingly busy for it being evening time so we couldn’t imagine how packed it would be during the day. After sitting in the sand for a while went to get paella at a nearby restaurant. I sadly started getting a migraine at the restaurant so we rushed out and back to the hostel so I could rest in the dark. Grant and Naomi were very helpful and accommodating to my migraine and it wound up not being too bad. I called it a night early to rest, feel better, and prepare to strut my cheetah stuff in Madrid!Read more

  • Day68

    Venice Part 2

    August 5, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    Buongiorno! We begun the day with a quick cappuccino at the hostel since it was before 11 and still socially acceptable to drink! We then attempted to go to brunch because apparently brunch is popular on Sundays in Venice. We think we may have gotten to the restaurant a little late because they were no longer serving breakfast food when we got there. This did not upset us though because the food was still great and we ate at a table right next to a canal! I had the salmon pasta with an aperol spritz! Yum! Afterwards we got our first daily gelato! Yum again! We then walked around and shopped a bit which was nice being able to add some Italian pieces to my capsule wardrobe that I am pretty sick of at this point. Next we took a boat to Murano to see glass blowing! We were a little worried that we would have trouble seeing glass blowing since we didn’t do much research or planning and since many places tend to be closed on Sundays. Luckily we had no issues at all! This was a huge relief after all the difficulties we had visiting Terezín a few days prior. The boat ride to Murano was very short and there was a boat stop only 2 minutes away from our hostel. Once we got there it was really easy to find a glass blowing presentation. We watched a demonstration of both glass blowing and glass molding which was very impressive and fascinating. The whole presentation was extremely efficient with showing us two WOW demos in under 5 minutes. I bought a pair of earrings at this glass makers shop after realizing that all the earrings I owned were from Claire’s. We then walked around and looked at the glass items from the windows of other shops. We bought Grant an early birthday gift of a glass piece with two fish that are supposed to represent our suite’s married fish, Timothee and Rolodex II. But shhhh don’t tell Grant about the gift, it’s going to be a surprise! We then walked around and hung out a bit before dinner. At our hostel in Prague one of the workers highly recommended a take-away pizza place when we told her we were going to Venice. We decided to buy pizzas there and have a canal side picnic pizza party! The pizza wasn’t bad but definitely wasn’t the best pizza I’ve ever had. We need to get that poor girl to Naples if that was the best pizza she’s ever had! During our picnic there were many weird birds that hung out with us making weird squeaking noises. They surprisingly never made any real attempts at our food which was nice, but it still freaked us out so we ate our pizza pretty quick and left the area. Afterwards we had our second gelato of the day. Double yum! All the gelatos in Italy were very creamy and will be missed greatly once I leave. We finished our night by enjoying lemon sodas while lounging at the hangout area of our hostel. The next morning we woke up early for hostel breakfast and then to go back to the airport for our flight to Barcelona. I am sad to leave Italy and private rooms but knowing that I will be seeing Grant soon makes it okay! It’s always hard to say bye to Italy but I know it isn’t a goodbye but a see you later! I also plan on bringing pieces of Italy with me to Seattle by trying to learn Italian as well as pasta making! So with that in mind I lovingly say arrivederci to Italy!Read more

  • Day66

    Venice

    August 3, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Buona notte! It feels great to be back in the most beautiful country in the world! We landed late in Venice after our flight was delayed due to bad weather. When we got our bags at the airport we took a boat directly to the part of Venice our hostel was in which was pretty cool since I’d never gotten on a boat directly at an airport before. Checking into our hostel was a magical experience. Our hostel, we_crociferi, is an old monastery that has been repurposed throughout the years and is now a hostel/student housing. The building was absolutely beautiful and it felt like we were staying in a museum from the Roman Empire era! There is a really nice hangout area outside of reception with pretty lights at night. And the best part was that our room was private and had air conditioning! It felt like paradise! Luckily there was a late night restaurant just two minutes by the hostel so we had a late dinner and then called it a night! We slept in the next day and started our day at a venetian restaurant popular amongst the locals. I had squid ink pasta which was delicious. Afterwards we did the must do daily activity in Italy and got gelato! It felt amazing to have real Italian food again! We then walked around for a bit and then decided to splurge and do a 30 minute gondola ride. Our ride was in the small canal which was nice and relaxing and away from the crowds. We also didn’t have to wait in any kind of line to board the gondola, we just saw a nice area and walked on which was great and stress free. Even though it was a bit pricey it was really nice and a great way to see the city. Plus I’m sure we would have felt some FOMO if we didn’t do this typical Venice “must do” activity. Afterwards we walked around and made our way to St.Marks square. It was late enough in the afternoon that most of the cruise ships left for the day so the square wasn’t too crowded. This was great because it allowed us to actually enjoy the beauty of the area. After this we walked around a bit more. When reading what to do in Venice every website said one of the best things to do was get lost walking around. Usually I find this a bit annoying for travel blogs to include but for Venice it makes sense. There are so many tiny alleys with no street signs that you pretty much have no choice but to get lost! However getting lost in Venice isn’t bad at all because every part of the city looks like pictures straight out of a travel book. Even the ugliest parts of the city were pretty enough to likely be my favorite part if it were in another city! For dinner we treated ourselves to a meal at La Caravella. I had the ravioli which was very tasty. Naomi and I wanted to split a desert and were torn between the tiramisu and lemon notes. We went with the lemon notes which was absolutely delicious. However after we finished our dessert we saw the tiramisu brought to another table we got jealous because it also looked amazing so we decided to order it as well! The wait staff joked around with us about it and they were hilarious throughout our entire meal. During our meal we noticed an adorable couple at a table near us. We thought they were so cute that we went up to them when we were leaving to tell them that we thought the were adorable and to wish them happiness. They seemed to really appreciate this and told us that they were currently on their honeymoon! We think that they may tell their kids this story one day which makes us happy :). The dinner itself was pretty fancy and was candlelit and I realized after the meal that the only candlelit dinners I’ve ever had have been with my Dad and Naomi. Who needs romance when you can enjoy a great dinner with your buddies! After dinner we walked around for a while and had a nice heart to heart and then went to bed in our hostel in paradise!Read more

  • Day66

    Prague Part 2

    August 3, 2018 in Czech Republic ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    We started the day by getting up early to visit the Terezín memorial which is a concentration camp an hour outside of Prague. Reading information online about how to get there from Prague made it sound very straightforward but it wound up being extremely difficult. We found out at the bus station that we were told to go to by online sources that it was the wrong station after trying to buy nonexistent tickets. When we got to the right bus station there weren’t many signs indicating which bus stop to wait at. We went inside the station office and the worker we found did not know either. Luckily the bus that arrived at the station first wound up being the one we needed which we discovered by asking the bus driver. When we got to Terezín we also had some difficulty finding the small fortress. Luckily we were able to discover how to get there after given a map by a worker at the ghetto museum. When we made it to the small fortress we informed the ticket person that due to all the confusion we missed the tour that we booked and asked if we could join another one. Luckily we didn’t pay in advance and were able to join a later tour, but the ticket office worker was very rude when communicating with us. The tour itself was very well done. It appears that very few English speakers visit Terezín because our English tour only had about 5 people on it whereas the Czech and Spanish tours each had at least 30 people. One of the people on our tour even spoke Czech but decided to take the English tour instead just because it was smaller. The concentration camp was different than we expected because it wasn’t a death camp like Auschwitz but more of a prisoner camp and an intermediary work camp for Jews before being sent to death camps. The neighborhood outside the fortress was a ghetto that Jews were sent to live in. This was the ghetto used in the Red Cross visit and propaganda film to show the world that the Nazis were not mistreating the Jews. Before the visit and film the Nazis sent thousands of the sick Jewish people in the ghetto to death camps to make the ghetto look not overpopulated and doing well. They also set up other fake facilities before the visit to make things look much better when they were typically terribly inhumane conditions to live in. Being in the camp was an eerie but powerful and important experience. We also had a lot of trouble finding the right bus stop and bus schedule leaving Terezín. We eventually figured it out thanks again to the worker at the ghetto museum. We realized that the confusion and concern from having difficulties finding our way around and with language barriers was actually an appropriate experience to have during our visit since the fear and confusion we experienced doesn’t even come moderately close to what the Jewish inhabitants must have felt at the time the camp was in use. When we finally made it back to Prague we went on an afternoon tour of the castle district. This was my favorite thing we did in Prague because the castle district was extremely beautiful and had a great view of the city. I’m not alone in finding the castle beautiful, apparently when McJagger visited Prague he thought the castle was so pretty that he personally paid for lights to shine on it at night! The city to this day can thank The Rolling Stones for their lovely nightlight. We started our tour by visiting the brewery at the top which is run by the monks at the monastery there. Apparently this is one of only 12 official monk brewed beers according to some official rules. Starting the tour with a beer in hand for the journey was pretty ideal to me! We walked around the beautiful castle grounds which apparently back in the day had so many exotic animals that were collected by the Hapsburgs roaming around that by today’s standards it could be considered a zoo! My favorite part of the tour was the convent which had tons of very tiny colorful houses. It looked like something pulled straight out of a fairytale! We also saw a vineyard and the church during our tour. While the Czech Republic has by far the largest beer consumption per population in the world they also like wine, and taxing wine has funded many projects in the city! I didn’t try the wine during my trip, likely because the beer was always cheaper than even water so it always seemed to be the best drink option! After the tour we went to get traditional Czech food at Micovna due to a recommendation from a friend of mine who recently travelled to Prague. I got the duck thigh with a Pilsner to drink and both were absolutely delicious! When we were done with dinner we went back to the hostel to join in the nights bar outings. We again only stayed briefly. All the people were friendly but not quite our crowd so we decided to do round two of getting burritos and calling it a night instead! The next morning we walked across the famous Charles bridge which was beautiful yet full of tourists. If I visit Prague again I want to go late at night when it is lit up by gas lighting. We then shopped for a little bit and then checked out of our frat house. Looks like our short lived college Greek life experience is over, but that’s okay because we have something better ahead of us, air conditioning!Read more

  • Day63

    Prague

    July 31, 2018 in Czech Republic ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    We started our trip to Prague by checking into our hostel, the madhouse. We picked it because it had great reviews and was known for being very social. The hostel had interesting vibes with different themed rooms. We were put into the “psychedelic room” which was decorated with trippy hippy art. Right next to my bed was a huge painting of a semi-phallic mushroom, so I always had that be the first thing to greet me in the morning which was interesting. The hostel also didn’t have air conditioning and it was in the 90s the entire time we were there so us and the 8 others in our room were always quite toasty. Naomi and I made sure to only book places with air conditioning from here on out due to this being the hottest recorded summer in European history. After walking around for a bit we went to the hostels “family dinner” and then to a bar with the hostel. It was really nice that the hostel had all of these events available, however almost every person staying there was a super bro-ey dude so it was the closest I ever get to being in a fraternity which wasn’t quite my scene. We left the bar crawl early and got burritos and called it a night! The next day we slept in a bit and then did a free walking tour of old town. Our tour guide was great and we got to see many of the major sites and get oriented to the city. My favorite thing I learned during the tour was that many famous rulers and figures were assassinated in Prague by defenestration, aka getting thrown out a window! I made sure to steer clear of windows in Prague after that! Naomi’s stomach started hurting during the tour so we went back to the hostel to rest for a bit. When she started feeling better we went to Letná Park which is a park situated high on a hill at the edge of the city. It had a phenomenal view of the city. At the top there were a bunch of shoes hung on one wire which confused us. I later looked it up and apparently the locals don’t know why the shoes are there either. Maybe this is the next stone henge and we will be left puzzled for years to come! We walked around the park for a bit and then enjoyed some ciders at the parks beer garden. After enjoying our time at the park we got back to the hostel 30 minutes after they left for the nights activities which we were okay with. We instead decided to watch the bachelorette men tell all episode in our hostel room. I guess you can say we decided to form our own sorority instead of join the fraternity for the night!Read more

  • Day61

    Berlin Part 2

    July 29, 2018 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We started the day by sleeping in until around noon since we were up until 6 am the night before hand. We then went to get one of Drew’s favorite things in Berlin for lunch, doner sandwiches! Doner is a popular cheap street food item in Berlin and it is basically a Turkish gyro. They were very tasty and a great way to start our day! We then set off to finally do some of the obligatory touristy things in the city. We first went to Gesundbrunnen where some of the Berlin Wall still remains. Here we saw the wall as well as an exhibit that explained what it was like to live in Berlin at that time and talked about families who were separated by the wall. It was very sad, yet powerful and crazy to think that this wasn’t too long ago. We then went to Pariser Platz to see the iconic original entrance to the city of Berlin. We then further walked in the area and saw three holocaust memorials. The first that we saw was for the Sinti and Romani people, also commonly known under the derogatory term “gypsies”. This memorial was a circular fountain with a poem written around it. Outside the memorial was a wall that described the oppression of the Sinti and Romani over the years leading to and including the Holocaust. This wall helped isolate the memorial helping make it a peaceful place to reflect in the midst of the city. This memorial was surprisingly right next to the Republic Square which has many government buildings. This was surprising because Berlin is the only capital city in the world that contains shame memorials honoring and apologizing to the people that the county oppressed. It was nice to see that not only was Berlin owning up to their mistakes by putting these shame memorials in their capital but by also bent willing to put them right next to their official government buildings. Next we went to the memorial for homosexuals. This memorial was a large cube with a video constantly projecting inside with same sex couples kissing in front of nazi propaganda back in the day. It was nice seeing this memorial and the one for the Sinti and Romani since it is often forgotten that more groups of people than just the Jews were systematically killed during the holocaust. Next we saw the memorial for Jewish people. This was a large area containing a series of many rectangular prisms of different sizes. The idea of this memorial was to create a feeling of confusion amidst something that appeared organized. Walking into the memorial the rectangles get bigger and bigger until they tower way above you. This change happens very fast in a way that is hard to notice. On the outside looking into the memorial it is hard to see how high the rectangles get. The memorial did an excellent job creating that feeling in a way anyone could understand. After visiting these memorials we got a quick dinner then made our way to Drew’s favorite park for watching the sunset, Volkspark Humboldthain. The park is perched high above the city with a nice view of Berlin. It also had a cool shaped statue that Drew likes a lot which I made him take a picture with. We relaxed here for a while enjoying the sunset and then walked around into the rose garden. When we were done with the park we went back to our hostel to rest and recover after staying out so late the night prior. We were the only ones in the room at the time so we decided to all huddle around my phone to watch the most recent episode of the bachelorette while enjoying the remains of my chocolate from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s a good thing nobody walked into the room while we were doing that because we would have definitely been judged! We started the next day by stopping by a market to get food for a picnic. We ate our picnic food in Treptower Park which was a park by the river which was nice and relaxing. In the park we went to the Soviet War memorial which was donated by Russia. The memorial was very large and well done but was a but problematic for having quotes by Stalin who killed just as many people as Hitler. After this we walks around the East side gallery which was a part o the Berlin Wall which was repurposed into art. Many artists decorated these slabs of the wall with beautiful street art. It was really cool seeing all the art and seeing the city turn something horrible into something beautiful. After this we went to cool off inside at a sit down ice cream place. Here we shared something called spaghetti ice which is where they put ice cream through a spaghetti maker and put strawberry sauce and white chocolate shavings on top to make this dessert look like spaghetti with marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese. It was tasty, refreshing, and a fun novelty to try! After hanging out for a bit we met up with Drew’s friends again for trivia at an Irish pub. We were pretty bad at trivia and got second to last place. We would have actually preferred to get last place since we would have gotten free pitty chocolate due to it but oh well at least we drank tasty beers while there! After trivia we went back to Risa chicken so Drew could have it one last time before leaving Berlin. We then changed into all black and went back to KitKat with hopes of pulling a “pretty woman” and making it into the club this time. We successfully made it in which was exciting! This wasn’t too surprising since it was a Monday and the line was short but it was still exciting! We didn’t stay long since we really went back just to see what the inside looked like. There was a pool inside and tons of extravagant decorations like nothing I had ever seen before. After laving kitkat we stopped at Drew’s favorite doner place so he could have doner fries again before leaving Berlin. We then called it a night and Drew sadly had to say goodbye to Berlin. We were lucky to have the best possible tour guide with us for free while visiting Berlin! Berlin was a very live city and proved to me to be the opposite of Munich. However I loved both for very different reasons.Read more

  • Day59

    Berlin

    July 27, 2018 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    When we got into Berlin we were exhausted from trying and failing to sleep on the overnight bus from Berlin. We dropped of our bags at the hostel but couldn’t check in yet so we spent 4 hours just hanging out relaxing at a cafe. It was an excellent opportunity for me to catch up on some posts and to finally book hostels and transportation for Spain and Portugal! Woo! When we could finally check into the hostel we took long much needed naps. After our naps we had some delicious sushi. This was pride weekend in Berlin so we started the festivities by seeing a drag show! The show was in a super classy ballroom and we were pretty much the youngest ones there which was a bit surprising to us. The show was a lot of fun and was fairytale themed with elaborate costumes with many pertaining to Disney characters. My favorite performance was by Fiona who tap danced! After the show we met up with some of Drew’s friends from his study abroad experience. We first went to Risa chicken, one of Drew’s favorite late night food places in Berlin which had delicious chicken! Then we went to a club called soda club which was described by one of Drew’s Berlin local friends as “garbage”. Even if it wasn’t known as the best club it was what we needed since we were all still in our travel clothes and didn’t dress up at all. The club played songs such as the lion king theme song and Soulja boy which was fun but definitely weird. We had a lot of fun but didn’t stay out too late since we were still very tired. By not too late I mean like 2:30 am, Berlin never sleeps and that is considered an early night here, it’s crazy. The next day we walked around and saw the Berlin pride parade! The parade was so much fun! The music that was played was lots of fun to dance and sing to ranging from things such as abba to the Macarena on repeat multiple times. There were many cool outfits including a group of old guys on lederhosen with rainbow colored feathers not their hats which were my favorite. Open container laws don’t exist in Berlin so we bought some Rosé to enjoy during the parade. The parade went on for many hours of the day and we got really tired halfway through so we went to Tiergarten park to take naps. We found a nice shaded area to gain some rest before going out at night. We then got Asian fusion for dinner and hung out at one of Drew’s friends apartment until it was acceptably late to start heading out to the clubs. Our plan was to go to one of the hottest and most extravagant clubs, KitKat. Since it was a summer Saturday night and pride this was probably one of the busiest possible nights for nightlife in Berlin. We got to the club and waited in line for 2 and a half hours! We actually had an absolute blast in line playing the car game called contact. When we finally got to the front of the line everyone but Drew got rejected by the bouncer which was pretty sad. Honestly it could have been expected since it was a very busy night and these clubs are very exclusive with what people wear and all the clothes many of us had on were picked from a small capsule wardrobe meant for travel. These clubs also strongly prefer German speakers and only two people in our group spoke German. Drew didn’t want to go in the club by himself so we all left and decided to ty another club. It was already past 3:00 am at this point. When we got to the next club the line was super long. It would have taken us at least an hour and a half to wait in which we didn’t want to do after waiting so long for the last club just to get rejected so we decided to call it quits. When taking a metro to one stop with intentions of making a metro switch to another stop we discovered that the next metro we wanted to take was closed for some reason and that getting back would take significantly longer than initially expected. Since we never got into a club many of us had to go to a bathroom at this point so we decided to just go to the McDonald’s at that station. I got fries at the station which everyone wanted some of. They were so satisfying at that point in the night that we wound up making another metro station McDonald’s stop at a future station on our way back to the hostel. We joked that we could start a food blog reviewing the fries at each of the metro stops in Berlin. The metros were unbelievably busy even around 4 am. It wasn’t even just people who looked like they were out for nightlife, many people looked like they just got off work! Step aside NYC, it looks like Berlin is the real city that never sleeps! We wound up making it back to the hostel around 6 am after a night of never actually getting into a club, but getting into 2 metro station McDonald’s. However were welcomed back with a great discovery! Earlier in the day we met the other people in our hostel room who were all from Great Britain. They were nice people but were a bit obnoxious with talking about partying. For example pretended to be shocked that there was no nightlife in Pickerington Ohio and made the assumption that that was the reason why drew and I went to different states. Because of this we made it a goal to make it back later in the night than them to in a sense out party them. And good news, we did it, we beat the Brits! It may not have been because we partied but they don’t need to know that, all they know is that we got back later then them! Victory is ours! Ohio for the win!Read more

  • Day57

    Amsterdam Part 4

    July 25, 2018 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    I finally got the chance to really sleep in until noon after not doing so for a very long time, which as the mayor of sleepy town was much appreciated! When we finally woke up, Drew and I went to a laundry mat to do our laundry where I experienced a mind blowing discovery. Drew apparently folds his socks not by tucking the tops together by by shoving one sock inside the other! He actually thought this was normal all his life until coming to Berlin and being teased by his friends for it. Apparently his entire family folds their socks this way! This completely blew my mind. I told Drew that this would be added to my weekly thoughts which he at first was honored about until I listed my weekly thoughts and he realized they are mostly stories of weird things about people I know. Regardless he definitely made the list! After our clothes were squeaky clean we went on a bike ride around Amsterdam. It was a lot of fun but a bit stressful at times. I found Copenhagen a little easier and less crowded to navigate on bike. In Amsterdam they allow vespas in the bike lane which was the biggest stressor since they are so much faster and more dangerous than bikes. Drew wanted me to lead the way with biking which was good in some ways since I feel more comfortable on a bike but they also wound up being bad at times because I would sometimes cross the street at scarier times causing us to almost get hit. Whoops at least we made it out okay! During our bike ride we biked past many canals, a really cool boat, a windmill, and even the zoo! We got a sneak peak of a giraffe walking around the zoo while biking which was pretty cool and unexpected since we didn’t even mean to bike by the zoo. At the end of our bike ride we decided to go to take a ferry and bike in a smaller neighborhood outside of Amsterdam since the city biking could be a bit much at times. This was nice and relaxing, especially when we biked through a park. After returning our bikes we went to have dinner at the foodhallen which is a big multicultural indoor food hall! I had dumplings and tacos for dinner. We also split the traditional Danish dish of bitterballen which are basically fried meat balls which was tasty! We the hung out in a bar for an hour while waiting for Naomi where I had a delicious rosé cider. We then met up with Naomi at the train station and had her check in to the hostel. We then all finished our day in Amsterdam doing what we wound up doing every night in Amsterdam and walked around the red light district! Naomi initially thought that when we said that we went to the red light district every night that we meant we partied there every night. We explained that we literally just walked around it every night which found funny because we realized that this was probably not normal to do at all. But hey tradition is tradition and it was interesting to see and show Naomi! The next day we slept in a bit since Naomi was tired after her travels. We then went to the Rijks museum. The museum was very big so we mostly saw the highlights such as Rembrandt’s works such as the nights watch. The nights watch was clearly the most popular piece in the museum with people surrounding it and taking many pictures. However even after standing by it and talking about it for a few minutes Drew managed to not realize that what we were standing by was the nights watch because he later asked “when are we going to see the nights watch?” We had a good time teasing him about this and kept asking if pretty much every painting in the museum was the nights watch. There was also one statue that Naomi thought she looked similar to after her haircut with I thought was funny and made her take a picture next to. After we got a bit museumed out we took Naomi to get the delicious stroopwaffels again. We then spent some time hanging out in a hip neighborhood called the Jordaan and chilled out at a coffee shop there for a bit. Next we went back to the museum quarter and took naps which our feet in the fountain which was super relaxing and cooling on a hot day. We had Indonesian kabobs for dinner and then went to board our overnight bus to Berlin! The bus was pretty small and not ideal for sleeping. The bus driver made 3 wildly unnecessary stops but hey it got us to Berlin in a super cheap way and at the end of the day that’s what matters!Read more

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