What I packed – Photographer – Europe – 2019

Check out my Amazon page for gear that I personally use and products similar to those I pack on my travels (many of which are listed below).

For this Eurotrip, we had planned to visit many cities and countries but doing so by the most efficient and cost effective of options. To do so, we took many flights with Ryanair and well, if you have flown with Ryanair, you can barely carry anything on those flights without having to pay for it.

With the restrictions of Ryanair as our template, I had to leave behind my goto bags – Wandrd PRVKE 21 and the North Face Basecamp Duffel – S. I traded those in for this Swissgear Travel Tote and that was it. The size restriction is (40cm x 20cm x 25cm).

With that being said, I had to sacrifice a few things but as a Photographer, it’s hard to leave things behind in case you need it. I did put Photography gear as priority and in the end, I brought less clothes and did more laundry. If you actually look at all my photos of me during the trip, it just looks like one long day since I wear the same things in all the photos.

For this trip, we had to deal with many temperatures going from 0°C to a high of 31°C. This is not an ideal situation for the limited space but I somehow made it work.

Wearing onto Plane

-Lululemon Tights – these tights are amazing because they are super lightweight but also feature pockets!

-Tank top

-Sports bra

-Hoodie

-Sneakers

-Socks

-Rain jacket

 

Swiss Gear Bag

-Passport International Drivers License

-Money – EU, GBP, DKK, SEK

-USB – 64GB

-D750 28mm

-Batteries – 2

-Nikon charger

-Mogics – power bar

-Phone charging cable + plug

-Samsung T5 SSD external + cable

-Card reader + cable

-Macbook Book Air

-Mac Charger

-Astrolapin

-Memory cards x 10

-Eyedrops – Rohto 40

-Glasses + case

Packable purse

Packable bag

-Powerbank

-Toothbrush

-Toothpaste bites (great for reducing liquids as well)

-Contacts

-Contact solution x3 travel size

-Tweezers

-Nail clippers

-Razor

-Laundry soap sheets

-Underwear x6

-Socks x3

-1 sports bra

-PJ’s (1 shorts + 1 shirt)

-1 shorts

-1 t-shirts

-2 tanks

-1 tights

-1 longsleeve

– 1 swim bottoms

-Strepsils

-Tiger Balm

-Sanitary items

 

Palma de Mallorca, Spain – 2019 – Day 33-36

10/13/19

Barcelona to Palma, Mallorca, Spain

I turned 31 and I’d been travelling 31 days with Winnie on this Eurotrip with almost 31°C weather.

We rented a Mercedes Benz and drove the Northern coast of the island. The driving was smooth like butter but not the best vehicle to take on those windy and narrow roads.

Along this route winding up the mountains, we stopped at many spots: Banyalbufar, Valldemossa, Deia, Soller, Port of Soller, top of the crazy windy roads of Sa Calobra (looks crazy but apparently worth it to go down for what’s down there) and made it to Cap de Formentor for sunset with a few lookout points along the way. It is crazy because the roads are super narrow along the mountain with many curve but you also are dealing with mountain bikers, motorcycles and other cars speeding around corners. There are many lookout points along the way on the mountain BUT please make sure your car can clear the difference in height between the road and the side of the road to deter from scratching your rental car.

10/14/19 

Palma, Mallorca, Spain

Beach(es) day.

We left Sa Pobla and hit the road in search of beaches. We drove to the North East side of the island and drove south where we ended in Palma.

Cala Mesquida and Es Trenc. Mesquida was a smaller beach with resorts right beside it but also had many hiking trails nearby. Parking is tight and since it is near a resort, parking can be time consuming. We decided to check out Es Trenc, is a long and narrow road that winds along before you can get to the parking lot (7€). The road to get in is super narrow and can barely fit 2 cars passing one another at certain points. There are area to pull over into to let the oncoming car to go through. You walk from the parking lot a bit and it opens up to see the 3.5KM beach. When we got there, the sun was still out but within 15 minutes clouds rolled in. We hoped the clouds would break but unfortunately it didn’t.

We moved on and made our way towards our Airbnb in Palma. We walked the boardwalk of Playa de Palma. The clouds opened up for a little bit but no clear sunsets.

We realized later that the weather had called for a downpour but all we got was a little drizzle twice for maybe 15 minutes each time. Good for us I guess.

We lived the glamorous life and went to IKEA for dinner – Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes so in a way, we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving in a Ikea in Spain. There are so many options of food and snacks! I was even able to grab a bag of the Bilar car candies.

10/15/19

Palma, Mallorca, Spain

Ciao Mallorca.

Final day in Mallorca and we decided to start the day at Anima Beach to get our last bit of rays on a beach. Just make sure you note where you park. If you park within blue, that is 1 hour parking if zigzag it’s bus and no parking. You need the white lines or clear and you’re in the clear as we learned the hard way.

We checked out of the Airbnb and parked our car for the day and explore the main section of Palma. We started with the area around Plaça de l’Olivar and ventured down to the marina and back into the main area.

Had lunch at restaurante La Mémé. We both got the 3-course meal for only 14,50€. I got the salmon wrap and salad to start, the goulash with potatoes and ended with carrot cake and the meal also includes a drink.

We ventured main parts of Santa Catalina and even made it over to the Cathredal and Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma. We didn’t go into see the exhibition but the exterior is lovely to walk through.

As we walked around the city, we stumbled across two more of Gaudi’s buildings as well. We had planned to reach the airport later in the evening and so to kill some time, Winnie got a pedicure.

For our final meal in Spain, we went to Celler Sa Premsa – where we ate in an old wine cellar. We ordered the sobrasada (raw, cured sausage from the Balearic Islands made with ground pork, paprika and salt and other spices – this region is known for the sobrasada). I got the grilled squid and Winnie got the Tumbet and of course a nice sangria to end the trip with.

We dropped off the car rental and had the classy stay overnight in an airport. What we did learn from our travels is that if we need to sleep overnight in an airport and haven’t check in yet, you can either find a location that is close to an outlet to charge your phone or whatnot but if you want to be comfortable, try to find the “café” and they usually have cushioned seats that you can put together and form a makeshift bed (well at least when the café is not open for business).

10/16/19 

Mallorca, Spain – London, UK – Toronto, Canada

Got into London via Gatwick and went to the New Cross area to grab Winnie’s bigger luggage from her friend Liona’s. Continued on and dropped off her stuff at her friend Tim’s place in South Kensington area. These are two very different areas of the city for sure. It was suppose to rain but the rain held off giving us a 15°C day and lovely lighting.

We had our final meal together at Squirrel – Thai me up bowl and a ginger cayenne shot for me. The interior is cute with a tree house themed design.

After lunch, we walked over to Charles Bridge and area before we bid farewell at Kensington station and I made my way to Heathrow to head home to Toronto.

And that was that. 11 flights, 2 trains, 4 car rentals, 6 countries and 16 cities (London, Madrid, Sevilla, Porto, Sintra, Cascais, Lisbon, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Munich, Berlin, Edinburgh, Isle of Skye, Glasgow, Barcelona and Mallorca) in 36 days.

Many have already asked me what was my favourite place or best memory was and to answer truthfully, we did so much that it is hard to truly pinpoint. Each city we went to had its highlights for sure. I would truly have to go through my Instagram posts or even these travel posts to remember all of it.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people along the way including some of my wonderful Yuujou friends (in person) and many of Winnie’s friends.

Thanks to my travel buddy Winnie for joining me on this month long adventure. Also for correcting my spelling errors, being the GPS and my model. We made it through without killing each other so that’s a good sign.

Barcelona, Spain – 2019 – Day 30-32

10/10/19

Barcelona, Spain

After an unconventional sleep in the Barcelona Airport, we picked up our car rental and drove into town. Had to take a second or 3 to recalibrate to driving on the right side. Picked up a nifty little Fiat.

Winnie went off for an appointment and I went off to explore a bit before going on the Free Walking Tours Barcelona – Gothic Quarter tour.

Francisca was our tour guide (very spunky but also very passionate and well knowledgeable. We had a group from all over (Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, USA, Germany etc).

Some information I learned from this walk:

-1 man designed the whole outer city grid

-He tried to keep it all even and uniform but people started building taller and well, Gaudi,

-El Raval – gentrified – use to be red light district

-La Rambla – New city – chic local designers

-Barcelona was walled in – the king gave the land to the soldiers who used it to party, drugs and sex.

-There are 7 beaches – all artificial with sand from Egypt

-The Olympics made the city get visitors and they had to clean up

-The square with execution – The executioner was the local butcher and chosen. His family would inherit the business. The executioner couldn’t live in or outside the wall in fears of being murdered so they would literally live in the walls and climb down each time to perform an execution and then climb back up. The perks of being Executioner was that they could keep the body parts. Hands and feet hung on the door were good luck.

-The steps where Christopher Columbus met the king and queen of Spain is in that same Square.

-Agata – breast cut off – a pastry is named after this and feature a cherry on top

-The cathedral face of Eulalia of Barcelona (also known as Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia also known as Barcelona Cathedral) was a facade getting ready for Olympics. You can also see a image of Darth Vader if you look close enough.

-Geese live in Eulalia of Barcelona as the Saint was a goose herder. They punished her for being Christian. There her into a barrel with sharp objects and threw it down a hill. She survived. They burned her at the stake. She survived. They stepped her down naked and starfish her on a cross to shame her but snow fall covered her. They cutt off her head.

-The main Plaza Reica was cleaned up and pushed all the red light district to La Raval to prep for the volume of people coming for the Olympics

-Sport – the tower – 26 ft when a little cold at the very top. Sculpture.

-The New city uses Jewish tombstone pieces in they’re walls from the Jewish mountain where they bury the dead. It was faster and cheaper than digging up the Jewish Mountain.

-The Jewish, Muslim and Catholic lived relatively harmonious together in Barcelona until at one point, the Catholic and Muslim people started to perish rather quickly to some unknown disease at the time. They thought it was a plot to kill them as the Jewish were seen to not be suffering from loss as much. From outrage that such a thing could occur, the Jewish were murdered almost wiping them all out. Turns out because of their faith, they must wash their hands before every meal which in return kept them healthier as hygiene was also a major cause of the deaths.

Francisca also gave us a link to her website that can be helpful finding many attractions and places for food she recommends seeing in Barcelona.

After the tour, I met Winnie and off we went into the mountains. We drove over to Montserrat. Windy roads up but the environment was lovely. We had originally planned to hike Sant Jeroni but we realized late that we needed to take the funicular up to do any of the hikes and we wouldn’t have been able to finish that hike before the last train down. – GET THERE EARLY IN THE DAY!

With the time we had with the car rental, we decided to drive over to Sitges. This coastal town is known for the beaches, nightlife and being very LGBT friendly. We went midday in the off-season so it was dead and we walked Passeig Marítim and admired some of the beachfront homes.

Took it real easy in the evening and bought groceries and made our own tapas.

10/11/19

Barcelona, Spain

Since Winnie had already been to Barcelona earlier on the trip, she had also set up appointments for herself upon her return which left me to explore on my own. I had a very early start to get free admission to Park Güell‘s Monument section of the park. If you get in before 8AM or after 630PM it’s free! If you make it in before 8AM, you can technically stay all day if you really wanted. It took awhile for me to get out of this massive park but I continued on and walked over to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Crazy amount of tourists and also this place is forever under construction.

I kept on moving and made my way to Agbar Tower and Mercat Fira de Bellcaire Els Encants (mirrored ceilings). This flea market sells everything and it’s very overwhelming unless you know what you are looking for.

Not too far away was Parc de la Ciutadella. I got a little turned around and didn’t realize that the entrance to this park was only on the North side as I continued along the east side of the wall of the park and ended up walking around the whole park but on the outside as the only entrance I saw on that side was to the Zoo (connected but not connected to the park). I did eventually make it into the park but since it was such a long walk, I quickly walked through. There is a apparently a mini Arc de Triomphe.

And not too far from that park was La Boqueria – Mercat Boqueria Barcelona in La Rambla. 1€ fruit cups and smoothies, much needed after my morning walk. As I was crossing the street, it just so happened out of all places, I just so happened to bump into a familiar face from back home who was also on vacation.

Before coming to Barcelona, I was told I should book a paella cooking class – so we did. We booked with Airbnb experiences and booked with the lovely Helina (she’s originally from Belarus and learned how to make paella the true Catalina way from her husband’s family). We were a group of 14 from all over the world (Scotland, Korea, Ecuador, South Africa, New Zealand, USA & Brasil). Helina took us through La Boqueria and explained more about jamon, fresh seafood and spices. We purchased fresh seafood and went back to her mother’s condo nearby and that’s when all the magic began.

It was a team effort as each person had a different task in the prep. We made a Spanish classic – pan con tomate (literally garlic, tomate Para pan, olive oil, a good baguette and slices of Jamon Serrano or Iberian if you want meat), sangria and seafood paella. It was such a wonderful experience and so tasty! Depending on where you had positioned yourself at the table, you were assigned a different task. My spot was in charge of cleaning the mussels, others had prepping the sangria, making pan con tomate etc.

After that wonderful cooking experience Winnie and myself parted ways as I went to Carmel del Bunkers (also known as El Turó de la Rovira, or simply The Bunker) to take in the sunset above the city. During the Spanish Civil War, this was the bunker where anti-aircraft guns were installed. I took the train to a certain point then it’s all about walking. There is a sign to a pair of stairs that leads to a lookout point and you think that this is the bunker but it is not – keep going up. I got to the top of those stairs and there is a great view up there. You think that this view is the bunkers, keep going! From these stairs, you go left and follow the bend and over the bridge. The bridge isn’t the end. Keep going up. You will definitely know that you are at Carmel del Bunkers. There will be people climbing and sitting all over the place on cement structures. You will also have a 360 view above the city and there will be people selling cervezas if you didn’t bring any to enjoy the view. The sunset wasn’t the best but for the moment, the sky opened up with a large slash across the city and that was lovely. My phone was dying and I wanted to make sure I got back to the Airbnb before it died since my phone was my lifeline so I didn’t stay until the sun went fully down. There is another alternative to get to the Carmel Del Bunkers and it is a bus route that will drop you off closer to the top and then you walk up. I walked down the street and hopped on the bus to get me home.

10/12/19

Barcelona, Spain

We had looked into going inside Sagrada Familia early morning but there weren’t anymore tickets online. Many of our friends had recommended that we go inside but since we had a short period of time, we just searched up videos of the interior since we couldn’t go in. Also, we would have to wear clothing that covers our shoulders and almost to our knees and well, it’s hot weather for us and tights we’re a no go for us.

We went to Brunch & Cake to start the day. I got the Acai bowl with peanut butter and Winnie got the brekkie board. There are multiple locations.

As we were walking to brunch, we had started to see people walking the streets in costumes and we got curious. October 12th is Spain’s Fiesta Nacional de España – Hispanic day. It is the day Christopher Columbus discovered the America’s in 1492. It is a national holiday and obviously a huge parade with so many people dressed up in colourful costumes dancing their hearts out in the heat.

The sun was finally out majority of the day so we made our way to the beach. Platja del Bogatell had beach volleyball and some cute restaurants on the beachside. We decided to just lie down and take in the sun and do nothing else. The clouds did roll in after a few hours so we left and walked around. Since it was the weekend and also a holiday, the streets were filled with so many cute families and people going to the movies.

We went to Xemei for dinner (early celebration of my birthday). My friend had recommended this Italian restaurant in Barcelona and it did not let us down. We got the Fish assortment to start and I got the Pappardelle with beef cheek ragu and Winnie got the Grilled octopus tentacle with eggplant. We finished off with Almond and orange ice cream and tiramisu.

Edinburgh – Isle of Skye – Portree – Glasgow, Scotland – 2019 – Day 25-29

10/05/19

Isle of Skye, Scotland

The start of the roadtrop – Edinburgh to Isle of Skye. We booked a car rental and picked up our car at the Train Station (Note – there is an extra service fee renting from the train station) and we got upgraded to an MG car. Needed a little calibrating to driving on the left side of the road but also the speed being in miles instead of kilometers. Roads are very narrow here with roundabouts and at times, the roads become single-laned streets with little passing sections to go aside to let the car opposite direction pass.

Along the way, we stopped by the small village of Glencoe and Fort William. The Wildcat in Fort Williamis a vegan cafe serving ample variety of food, pastries and coffee as well as a shopping section for eco-friendly products in the back. We saw many chilis go out but I settled for the full vegan breakfast – chestnut & herb sausage, haggis, scrambled tofu, potato rosti, avocano, baked beans, mushrooms, baked tomatoes, wilted spinach and sourdough bread.

We continued on the road stopping by Eilean Donan Castle. It is the most photographed castle in Scotland apparently and to this day, the family does on occasion still reside in the property. It has its own bridge to get to the castle as well.

Seeing as we were making good time and weather was somewhat cooperating, we decided to go and see more. We drove to the Fairy Pools and did the walk down from Glucagon na Sithichean. The winds were brutal with mist lightly covering everything. The waters were so clear and from above. We also drove down the road to see another fairy pool on the side of the road. There is a beach further in but no point in going when it’s super wet, windy and dark outside. Please also watch out for roaming sheep.

The sun went down so we checked into our hostel – Skyewalker Hostel. Dropped all our things and drove 30 minutes to get into Portree (kudos to Winnie driving in the dark and rain). Had dinner at the Caley Bar – I got the burger that comes with fries, onion rings and coleslaw.

10/06/19

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Our first full day in Skye, we started our day back in Portree stocking up on groceries at the Co-op before hitting the open road. We drove to the Fairy Glen (many miniature cone-shaped hills). Next stop was Quiraing where the sun started to come out but we didn’t realize where we had stopped in that parking lot was the entrance to the 6-8KM trail. We drove down the bends to see the other side to realize this. At that point, there was no turning back. We just kept going.

Stopped by Cuith-Raing – a lookout point.

With the gorgeous sun out, we stopped by Kilt Rock with his waterfall before making it over to Old Man of Storr. We hiked to the top and we were so happy the weather cooperated. When we were heading down from our hike, the rain started up so we were lucky. We drove back to Portree and wandered the town a bit going to stores like Or and the Gathering Hall Market.

Since we didn’t really have a proper meal that day (minus the tons of snacking) we chose to stay in Portree for dinner. We went to Prince of India – I ordered the lamb Tikka Biryani and the special Pakura.

We were able to drive back to Port na Long while the sun was still up (much easier than pitch darkness and rain). Our hostel featured a see-through dome where you can relax and look upon the stars but only when the sky is clear which sadly it wasn’t.

10/07/19

Isle of Skye, Scotland

We kept checking the weather going into this trip and this day in particular was suppose to be raining 15-20mm. The Scottish have a word – dreich meaning wet, dull, gloomy, dreary at its most miserable of weather.

Today however, the rain for the most part stayed away and we got some golden rays.

We drove over to Dunvegan Castle – the clan of MacLeod. It is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and goes back at least 800 years. The garden was super lovely to walk through as well.

The rays of sun were strong as we drove to our next destination – Neist Point Lighthouse. It did get dark and gloomy along the way and traffic came to a halt because of the cows. We got to the top and waited in our car until the clouds pushed away a bit. Windy but we made the climb down and up to the lighthouse.

Considering we thought the day would be rained out, we stopped into a Cafe and asked about any other hikes and a couple mentioned Coral Beach in Claigan. The walk down to the beach is easy going (about 25 mins each way). The best part was climbing up to the top of the cliff after you’ve made it to the beach. It was incredibly windy and ever more so up top.

We drove back to Portree for dinner and grabbed some classic fish and chips at Chippy’s. The rest of the night was spent trying to untangle my hair. A lot of hair was lost that night.

10/08/19

Isle of Skye – Glasgow – Edinburgh, Scotland

Isle of Skye was great timing for us in terms of weather especially. We left in the morning and the rain just kept pummelling down.

We drove back to Edinburgh but of course with stopovers in Fort William for lunch at Wildcat Cafe once again. I got the miso peanut butter tofu wrap. We also decided to detour and check out Glasgow on our way back.

The weather wasn’t ideal but we did manage to walk around a bit to see the church (outside because it closed before we arrived) and around the square, part of campus and the famous shopping area and arcade. I even found a Tardis. We also stopped by a piece of home – Tim Hortons (but no honey cruellers so we carried on). We made it back in Edinburgh and made a nice stirfry to end this chapter of our time in Scotland with Nuala and Maya.

10/09/19

Edinburgh to London to Barcelona

Early morning train ride from Edinburgh to London Euston. Of course we had loads of snacks to get us through our travels. Winnie and myself parted ways once we got into Euston. I went to explore the city and run some errands and she went to exchange clothing at her friend’s place where she was storing her larger luggage.

In my few hours walking around, I went to Novelty Automation, Oxford Street, Carnaby, the Burlington Arcade (still has its own private police in big hats and capes), and Goodwin’s court in Covent Garden.

Walked over to London Bridge train station and we both hopped onto the train to Gatwick airport using our oyster cards. It was a long ride especially with rush hour travellers.

The flight with Vueling to Barcelona was super smooth. Since we arrived late in the evening, we decided to sleep in the airport. We found an outlet behind a machine so we plugged in and slept on the floor.

Berlin, Germany – Edinburgh, Scotland – 2019 – Day 21-24

10/01/19

Berlin, Germany

Our time in Berlin has more or less been a wet one and this day was no different. We took the train to Sachsenhausen – a concentration camp that was used from 1936-1945 to the end of the Reich. It had interned 200 000 prisoners during its time. The came is about 1.5 hours outside of the centre of Berlin by train. Remember to get a train ticket for zone ABC. There are street clothed transit police on the trains who come around and check your tickets and 2 other tourists got caught and fined for not having the proper ticket for the zone.

To visit is free but you can pay 3€ for the audio guide and it is definitely worth it. There is so much information that we were only there for 3 hours and barely scratched the surface. The moment we arrived, the whole mood was set with heavy rain coming down upon us. We were drenched.

We hopped back onto the train and back into the centre of Berlin we went to meet with Lea for a late lunch and to grab tickets from her. She recommended a theatre production and wanted to take us our first night but we arrived too late. There is an abundance of Vietnamese living in Berlin and many restaurants specializing in an array of Asian cuisine in one – Viet, Thai & Japanese cuisine served in one place is the norm here.

After lunch, we parted ways so Lea could go back to work. We went to check out Tempelhofer feld – once a concentration camp and an old airport which now serves as a working natural habitat, park, concert venue, skatepark etc. The weather was a little better in Berlin than where Sachsenhausen was. This park would be nicer to visit on a sunny day to bike around in.

We’ve been told by many people here in Berlin that we must check out Klunkerkranich and so we did. Who would have thought to turn the top floor of a mall parking into an outdoor garden dance club venue. When Google maps told us where to go, we were very confused as this wasn’t your typical mall either. It is actually very quiet up there. Not to mention the views you get of the city line from there. You have to enter by going to the 5th floor parking and walk up the 6th floor ramp. It does cost a fee to enter (3-5€).

We ended up going back to the main area in the city but this time it was to try out this bakery called Berliner Pfannkuchen Café – Backerei & Konditorei. We grabbed ourselves a raspberry donut – not too sweet but the filling was plenty. Apparently these aren’t donuts but German pancakes according to the name.

We met up with Winnie’s friend Sarah at Cafe Cinema who is working for the Canadian embassy in Berlin. We were talking about Futurism and how there was a part in the exhibit discussing whether we would want our life data to be stored on USB’s for future access or deleted. Sarah’s response to that topic was “German people with their past history would rather have that stuff deleted. Germans don’t trust that data to be out there and that is also why everyone pays for everything in cash – no trace.”

To end the night, Lea recommended this play at the Deutsches Theater Berlin called the Ugly Duckling. The Ugly Duckling, the Little Mermaid mixed with Berliner dragqueens, what more can you ask for. It was such an amazing show that touched upon each individuals story. Definitely recommend!

Our time in Berlin was definitely short lived. Here is a list that my friend Jaclyn sent me of her favourite things to tell visitors to see, do and eat/drink.

The touristy things:

Hamburger Banhof
Museum Island
Berlinische Galerie
Brandenburg Gate

Berlin Victory Column
Reichstag (if you want to go inside, I believe you have to apply a few days before)
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Checkpoint Charlie
KaDeWe – upstairs market
East Side gallery and/or Berlin Wall Memorial berlin
Mauerpark flee market – Karaoke Sundays
Soviet War Memorial (Treptower Park)
Sanssouci Palace
Teufelsberg

Local stuff:

Viktoriapark – Kreuzberg look out
Landwehr Canal walk Kreuzberg (Maybachufer), grab a Brammibal’s handmade vegan doughnut on the way

Five Elephant, Companion, Bonanza coffee
Do you read me? – Mitte books/magazines
C/O Berlin – Photo
Helmut Newton Foundation
Best schnitzel – Felix Austria (Bergmannstraße 26)

“Secret” Berlin Unterwelten tours  – (Limited tickets and dates, book in advance) This was awesome when we did it.

Ora – drinks
Mexican @ La Lucha
Zola – Pizza
Black Lodge bar
Bar Brutall
Herr Lindemann bar
Zosse bar
Paloma bar

Basalt bar
Markthalle Neun – food market (T, F, S)
Curry wurst – Curry 36

Treptower Park – paddle boating (with wine)

Templehofer Feld (bring bikes to ride on the airport runway)
Klunkerkranich, roof top bar in Neukölln area

Burgermeister

Berghain

Open air clubs: Sisyphos, KaterBlau (day or night experience)
Max und Moritz – good German food and beer

Saam – Korean BBQ

Paris Bar – in the West – Suspiria filmed there

Hallesches Haus. Good eats, brunch and fun general store

10/02/19

Berlin, Germany – Edinburgh, Scotland

Berlin was fun but also very wet. We bid farewell to Lea early in the morning and made our way to the airport in the rain.

Next stop, Edinburgh. The warm sun welcomed us even though it was still around 9-10°C. It was 29-31°C in Toronto the previous day. Must’ve been nice.

We took the bus into the city (not too expensive but takes some time as it is a local bus that stops frequently). Our bus driver did a sweep of the bus before letting us on and found a forgotten watermelon. Once we finally got to our destination, we we’re welcomed by Winnie’s friend Maya and her roommate Nuala. They both are also from Toronto but have been living in Edinburgh for university.

They took us around town but first stop was for food. The Golden Chicken Chili from Union of Genius was absolutely delicious! We ate it on the grass on the university campus.

We walked the Water of Leith Walkway, Dean village, the Princes Street, near the Royal mile, plus many more. We even went all the way up to Calton Hill. You can see the whole city from up there and many monuments to scholars.

We stopped by Red Kite Cafe for some Almond black tea (one of Maya’s favourite coffee shops and tea choices at this place). Slowly made our way back to their place but stopping off to grab groceries as we had decided to make a home-cooked meal together.

Joining us for dinner festivities was their friend Alice. We made fresh basil lemon ricotta ravioli and for dessert, we (Winnie mainly) made ginger cookies.

10/03/19

Edinburgh, Scotland

Started off the morning with the most strenuous of activities for the day – hiking Arthur’s Seat. It was an overcast day for the most part but the 360 view was well worth it.

Walked Princes St and the Royal Mile before stopping for lunch at Henderson’s where I got the vegetarian haggis with potato and leek soup – delicious.

We met back up with Maya and she took us through Princes St garden, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Grass market and Victoria St – Harry Potter fans rejoice in this street that inspired JK Rowling.

With the weather not being the best outside, we went indoors to the National Museum of Scotland (free admission). This museum is housed in a beautiful building and it is a mishmash of the Ontario Science Centre, ROM and the AGO all rolled into one. It also houses Dolly the sheep.

We walked past this Korean restaurant the day before that Nuala and Maya were raving about and we decided to go there for dinner. Kim’s has been Michelin marked and always has a line as they are only open from 530-8PM. We got there in time to be part of the first group of people in. We ordered the beef bulgogi, kimchi jeon, kalbi beef rib stew and bimbimbap.

To walk off the delicious food we ate, we walked over to the canal before heading home.

 

10/04/19

Edinburgh, Scotland

The chilly morning feels where you don’t want to get up from under the covers type of day. It was a chilly overcast 10°C.

We had a lazy slow start to the day but I guess it’s needed once in awhile.

Our first stop was to the Dovecot Gallery where we could watch artists making tapestries.

We walked for about 45 minutes and made our way to the Scottish Museum of Modern Art. The main floor was under renovation but at least the second floor has art pieces from one of my favourite artists such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte. We were told that the first floor exhibit is the main attraction – bummer we didn’t get to see it first hand.

We continued on towards Edinburgh Castle where we stopped by a cafe called Deacon’s House Cafe. We ordered the Scottish Cream Tea – plain scone with jam and cream served with tea. We also ordered the carrot cake loaf.

Earlier in the day, we had decided we would do a traybake for dinner so we met with Maya to do some grocery shopping. We also stocked up on snacks for the next few days. We also stopped by some really cute design stores along the way.

After gathering supplies, we made it back to Maya and Nuala’s and prepped dinner. The traybake consisted of red onion, peppers, artichoke hearts, zucchini, thyme, tomatoes, basil, lemon, olives and feta cheese.

Copenhagen, Denmark – Munich – Berlin, Germany – 2019 – Day 16-20

09/26/19

Copenhagen, Denmark – Stuttgart – Munich, Germany

We left Copenhagen early in the morning to arrive into Stuttgart to catch our Flixbus (one of the cheaper options to get around Europe – Similar to Greyhound or Megabus) to Munich. Back to the euro and we felt like we were rich after being in Denmark for the past few days.

Arrived into Munich and we found ourselves a storage locker at the train station and walked around a bit. This was a task in itself as everyone was in town for Oktoberfest and also storing their things at the train station. We walked over to Marienplatz and it was a little drizzly. We ended up buying some chunks of Dutch cheese and also some grapes as well as fresh bread.

Oktoberfest is incredibly busy and many places are booked up or not renting out during this timeframe. The Airbnb we managed to book was located in Wolfratshausen (45 minutes roughly outside of town) and because of that, we called it an early night after our day of travelling. Our Airbnb host was baking mushrooms and her whole place smelt like pizza the entire time.

09/27/19

Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany

Woke up super early and met up with Winnie’s friends Kirtana and Mark. We made it to the festival entrance at the Fairgrounds of Theresienwiese to line up at 8AM. 9AM hit and the mad dash began to get into the specific beer halls. We made it to the doors of HB (one of the most popular ones for tourists) and low and behold beside me stood Scott who I met in Lisbon a week and a bit prior with his Remote Year crew.

It was also a mad push to get in but we got seated. Beer steins were 11.70€ each however beer wasn’t served until 10AM. We also ordered half chickens – which were amazing – also not served until 11AM. I also bought a bottle of water and they give you a chip so you can get a euro back once you return it. A good tip is to refill those water bottles at the washrooms for free! It is also cheaper to purchase food outside of the beerhall not as convenient especially if you have been drinking. Some of the people around us were buying these little viles of white powder and it turns out, it’s a thing to snort peppermint to keep you alert and wake you up as well as clear your nasal passages.

We met many wonderful new friends including Kelcey & Sam (she lives NYC now) from Texas, Caroline & Biscuit from New York, Scott and his friends from Remote Year and Texas, John & Stephen with their friends and Colin (who currently live in Prague) from Orange County and a few older Italian Gentlemen who might be part of the mafia. We went on a weekday so pretty much the crowd was foreigners.

We definitely had a fun experience with Oktoberfest and my first experience drinking and being a little drunk all before noon. Everyone in my group had 2L beersteins and finished them before noon. We stayed in that tent from 9AM-530PM. We came out and walked the grounds a little bit before leaving and finding some food and heading home.

The rest of the day was a write off but well worth it. We went to bed around 8PM.

 

Things to know before you attend Oktoberfest

-Oktoberfest does not take place traditionally in October but from September 21st through October 6th – it falls over 3 weekends and thousands/millions flood the city of Munich.

-If you are looking for accommodations within Munich, BOOK MONTHS IN ADVANCED or be prepared to stay on the outskirts of town and take the train in. If you are daring, there are Oktoberfest camp spots – literal camping in tents with a partying atmosphere all around.

BRING CASH – card is not accepted.

-There is no entry fee to get into the Fairgrounds of Therheresienwiese, but of course the money you spend will go towards beer and food.

Oktoberfest Hours
Opening day: 12:00 – 10:30pm
Weekdays: 10:00am – 10:30pm
Weekends and Holidays: 9:00am – 10:30pm
Tents Open late: Käfers and Weinzelt open until 1:00am

-Temporary beer tents are set up in advanced for each beer hall with long benches and picnic tables. Be ready to share seating with strangers.

-Oktoberfest is not just about drinking in beer tents but it is actually an amusement park with games and rides.

-Bags are not permitted. Fanny packs and little purses are acceptable.

-If you choose to dress up, you can actually purchase a dress (dirndls) or lederhosen at the train station

-Many people end up standing on the bench and try to chug their beers, this results in that person being kicked out of the beer hall. It’s a precaution in case they vomit from chugging so much beer.

-You will not be served if you are not sitting at a table.

-There are no small beers – 1L beer stein is what you will get

-You will not get a hangover if you ONLY drink beer – Germans have a beer purity law so the beer is made with very few fresh ingredients.

-You can line up at 8AM and do the mad dash to the beer tents when gates open at 9AM

-Beer does not get served until 10AM and food 1030AM

-If you have the chance, check out Oktoberfest at night – live music (different experience than during the day – or stay all day long)

-As a tourist, weekdays are your best bet as weekends, millions of people including locals will be attending and it gets incredibly busy.

-The last day of the festival (October 6th) is apparently the most magical

 

More to know

https://happytowander.com/oktoberfest-must-knows/

https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-survive-oktoberfest/

https://www.bigboytravel.com/europe/germany/munich/oktoberfest/best-tips-and-tricks/

09/28/19

Munich – Berlin, Germany

Spent the day just walking around Munich after our Oktoberfest shenanigans the previous day and making sure we had ample time to recover if needed. The sun was out and turned out to be a good day to explore. So many cute little streets and neighbourhoods we ended up wandering through.

Made our way to the English Garden and watched some people catching some waves on the Eisbach river.

Walked past this alien spaceship structure which turned out to be an installation for the Pinakothek der Moderne. The whole building was just beautiful to look at.

Stopped to grab a bite at Dean & David – chicken curry bowl. Since we had time and the weather was much nicer than the first time we made it through Marienplatz, we went up to the tower at St Peter’s Church. It costs 3€ to go up but it is a narrow stairwell for majority of the way up and it is used to go up and down.

We purchased some sustenance and caught our train from Munchen hbf. We took the DB all the way to Berlin (lent my shoulder to a new Italian friend along the way) where we came in quite late. For our stint in Berlin, Winnie’s friend Lea graciously hosted us.

09/29/19 

Berlin, Germany

Our first full day in Berlin was a rainy one but at least we were accompanied by Lea.

First stop was to the East Side gallery of the Berlin Wall to check out the art pieces and of course the famous kiss art mural. Every so often, the murals get redone as a new commission.

We learned majority of things are closed on Sundays but one positive are the flea markets. We went to 3 of them – RAW Flohmarkt, Boxhagener platz and Mauerpark (On Sundays in the summer or when its still warm out, there are usually karaoke in the park).

We spent some time exploring Friedrichshain and made our way to Monsieur Vuong for lunch. I got the Pho Bo and it was much needed and satisfying to have a soupy meal on a wet and cold day.

We did stop over to Zeit fur brot where we got the apple cinnamon roll, walnut and maple syrup roll as well as fresh walnut and date bread.

With it being so wet outside, we wanted to go to the spa – Vabali but of course there was a huge line of people who also had the same thinking as we did. We did not wait in line and continued on. Did I mention in this weather, the Berlin Marathon was also happening. There were so many people running the city.

We walked about 20 minutes but made it to Futurium to be greeted by another line. We waited and the line moved quickly. It was also free admission. The museum discusses many possible future outcomes and sustainability. Very thought provoking but also a lot of information to take in. You also get a bracelet to keep and at each station, if you wanted to learn more about that topic or wanted to remember what you were interested in, you could use that code online and gather the information for later to continue the topic after your visit.

After being out all day in the rain, we decided to buy some groceries and make a home-cooked meal. Remember how I mentioned many things were closed on Sundays. Grocery stores are also closed BUT you can only find the open ones in the metro terminals.

We roasted beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli. While we waited for all that to cook, we started off eating the fresh bread from earlier with cheese and grapes.