Berlin: Day Two

Thursday, October 29, 2015 Rocío N. 0 Comments

It's been more than a month since my last blog post, and for that I am truly, deeply, and utterly sorry. I hope a Day Two of my Berlin series will suffice until I post another Life Update where I explain myself. Let's get right to it then:

Our first stop after having a delicious breakfast (and mightily unhealthy I might add -- Nutella sandwiches, anyone?) was the Naturkundemuseum. My brother had been itching to go since our uncle mentioned the gargantuan dinosaur skeletons, and my brother having recently seen Jurassic get the picture.

Our uncle dropped us off a few blocks away in a DriveNow car, and to be honest, it was one of the highlights of my day. I know, it sounds stupid, but a service where you could drive any car under membership as long as there are cars around is pretty ingenious. I'm not endorsing their brand or anything, but man was that cool to learn. Any chance we could get DriveNow in Manila? No? Oh well...

We walked just a few blocks after accidentally wandering into a building undergoing maintenance with another lost family, we finally found the entrance. This is what greeted us once we finally got through:

It was a fantastic sight, a skeleton of what I can recollect being a Brachiosaur, the longest ever discovered. Other displays welcomed us with skeletal remains, fossils, and interactive videos.

We continued our tour in the museum and found Knut.  As a child who had seen and idolised the polar bear cub on television, this was astounding. They had Bao Bao the panda as well, but I failed to take a photo.

The rest of the museum was incredible: darkened rooms with preserved sea creatures, stories of evolution on walls and statues, a hall dedicated to outer space, and gemstones galore.

By lunchtime, we had left the museum found a pizza place (with extra-extraordinarily good pizza, might I add) before beginning our hunt for the Hackescher Hof. The feat took hours; and although it was tiresome for my poor little non-athletic ankles, we were able to stumble upon some important tourist spots including the Friedrichstadt-Palast and the Neue Synagoge.

After we'd been going around in circles, we decided to go past an alley to reach the other side as a shortcut. Little did we know that passing this alley would lead us to this small, but charming complex of greenery, cafés, and art studios.

After spending almost half an hour taking in the beauty of this little oasis (where you can spot my cousin at the fountain), we emerged through the other end and were greeted by an array of buildings signaling our proximity to the Hackescher Hof.

Much to the annoyance of my mother, however, we were sidetracked by a store called Maskworld, where we spent hours trying on, well, masks. She got over it as soon as we entered, and was  immediately impressed by the spectacle of glitter and feathers. The store was stocked in four floors with costumes, merchandise, makeup, and hats, all worthy of an all-star Halloween dress-up party. Unfortunately, all photos inside the store were blurry. Also, I don't think my mother or aunt or uncle would be happy about posting pictures of the kids on the internet, so I'll have to keep it at that.

Once we stepped out of the store, we took a left and found it. The Hackescher Hof.

...still, we weren't able to enter. As soon as we had found the place, there was an emergency and we had to take a taxi back home. Maybe next time?

See you soon with a Life Update and a Day Three coming next month,

Rocío x

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Berlin: Day One

Thursday, September 03, 2015 Rocío N. 10 Comments

It was late in the afternoon when we arrived at the Berliner Hauptbahnhof. We didn't have any itinerary for the day: just to get to where we needed to be and settle. My uncle picked us up at the train station in his beige BMW convertible and drove us around the city to get a quick glimpse of the German capital.

It didn't take us long to reach what we were looking for: the Brandenburger Tor, and sure enough we saw it. Along the way, we were able to pass the Siegesäule and Universität Humboldt. The drive down the western side of Unter den Linden was beautiful: there were trees everywhere, and the wide throng of green was almost an other-worldly sight in such a populous city. Just from being in a train cabin for eight straight hours, you'd know how refreshing that would be. 

Exasperatingly having packed the wrong type of clothes, we headed next to the Mall of Berlin to purchase some fresh sets. It didn't occur to us to check that the weather news we'd seen could have been from the previous year and that instead of a breezy 17ºC it could reach a deadly 40º.

The entrance to the mall was breathtaking. Sure it looked like some malls back in Manila, but they don't have what made arriving there so exquisite: a view of the Rathaus across the street. I'll show you what I've purchased in a future post so you could also get a glimpse of the fantastic underground shops scattered around the place. For now, let's explore Berlin.

After another set of driving around Germany's capital, we reached our home for the next few days. My uncle's place was wonderful. It fit my aesthetics exactly: white walls, vintage-looking chairs, art on the walls, and a fantastic view.

And so marked the beginning of my first adventure in Berlin.

As I said before: time to get touristy.

Rocío x

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Schloß Neuschwanstein

Sunday, August 09, 2015 Rocío N. 5 Comments

Touristy, I know, but Schloß Neuschwanstein's been on my to-do list for as long as I can remember (which doesn't exactly say much because I'm a very forgetful person). When I was to visit my aunt and uncle in Allgäu, I seized the chance to finally see what I've been dreaming of in years. Driving in the car, I couldn't help but stare out the window -- when I wasn't asleep, that is -- to catch a glimpse of the palace despite the blinding rays of the sun.

When we finally reached our destination, I jumped in excitement, and after our forty-five-minute queue for tickets to the tour, we hiked up to the Swan King's masterpiece.

Though construction stopped only a third of the way, the building was still a marvel. If King Ludwig II had remained alive and the construction never came to a halt, it would have been even grander. Up on the balcony could have stood a chapel and across it the knight's bath and Moorish hall. But unfortunately, those prevailed only in dreams and drafting paper. The castle was thought up by the king, who grew up in the neighbouring castle of Hohenschwangau. This was to be his dedication to his favourite composer Richard Wagner. The walls and carvings were all patterned after his operas, each room displaying his stories in murals.

We weren't permitted to take photos inside the Schloß, but at the end of the tour I found my way out to a balcony where you could see the Alpsee and the village of Schwangau, and on a mountain in its midst: the Schloß Hohenschwangau, or formerly Schwanstein. To the left of my view was the Marienbrücke, which was under renovation at the time. I could have been able to go up there and see the most fantastic view of Neuschwanstein but alas, all paths were blocked off.

Soon enough, we were able to have some lunch and try some Quarktaschen (which was a little sweet for my taste, but then again I was never a sweet tooth to begin with) before wandering along the Alpsee.

What I wish we could have done was see Schloß Hohenschwangau and check out the museum as well. Before coming to the place, I was already a huge fan of King Ludwig II's cousin, Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Sisi and Ludwig II are both such eccentric and interesting characters. Maybe I should just read a book about them? I'll tell you how it goes.

By around five or six in the evening, we headed home. I was in a trance the rest of the day. My, my, my, how wonderful would it be to live in a castle like Neuschwanstein? Poor Ludwig only got to live in it for 172 days before drowning along with his psychiatrist in 1886.

On a lighter note, however, I'll get back to you with more memories from around the country.

Write you soon with postcards from Berlin,

Rocío x

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Bantayan Island

Wednesday, July 08, 2015 Rocío N. 2 Comments

As promised, here are some photos I took on Bantayan Island, some never-before-seen and others from my Instagram:

Until next time,

Rocío x

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