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Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Last year I have been to Germany on two separate occasions. Here is a little travel journal/guidebook from my visit to Berlin.

Transportation

Turbulences. This is  the first time when I am flying and I feel the plane is actually racing. This must have something to do with the no limitations highways in Germany, and this must be the formula 1 Pilot from Air Berlin.

Finally we land and I dizzily get out of the plane.

The luggage takes its time and I finally get out of the after approx. 25 minutes small luggage waiting room into a circle corridor. A few steps down the corridor there is the a bus ticket counter. The first interaction with the natives is the conversation with the skinny, unfriendly man at the counter. This is my second visit to Berlin, so I remember I should expect rudeness… and yes, here it comes. „ If you do not have change, you won’t get any ticket.“ We really do not have change, but in the end he agrees to take the money as we are buying the more expensive weekend ticket. My husband claims this approach is not rude but part of the Berlin charm… and after all what do I know about charm in Berlin, so I nod agreeing with him.

The bus ride I also remember vaguely. I remember my bags rolling up and down the bus, hitting the other innocent passenger that didn’t have my luck to catch a free chair in the 70s style bus.Image

transportation in Berlin can also be more comfortable…if you are small enough

Accommodation

The next day, catches me wondering the city on my own. The hotel, is modern and comfy and the breakfast-which on the first day I accidentally end up  not paying for-is fabulous.

The reality outside is therefore not less grey and chilly. The big broad, grey streets are like taken out of my home town.Image

Shopping

I am at Karstadt and the shops are catching my eye. I like cities where you get the feeling you have access to everything. I like big streets where the shops almost never close. I like the brands clutter and the smart souvenirs shops that are not only primary based on kitsch. Therefore, I like where I am now. I buy myself an Ampelgirl T-shirt which I will wear proudly after returning from my trip. I also obsessively take pictures of all the traffic lights that come my way.Image

Entertainment

In front of  Karstadt there is an older punk in his 60s, doing some acrobatic tricks on his skate.  Few steps ahead: a woman in her wedding dress in the window of a shop that is getting her hair done. Outside the window a large group of passersby are shooting pictures. I join them and take another on my Instagram. I have a clear image in my head of  a complex Berlin picture that manages to transmit everything that I feel when I am walking the grey, broad streets, but Berlin dosen’t let itself captured by my camera and the ‘one’ big picture dosen’t come along.Image

Sightseeing

I get on the subway and randomly choose a direction, getting off at Alexanderplatz, where once again I am struck by the grayness as well as by the massive construction work that is going on at every corner.  Or is it already finished? If it wasn’t for the shops and brands earlier, I could still swear that I turned back in time to the period when David Hasselhoff hadn’t sung yet on the ruins of the Berlin Wall. The Fernseherturm is as emblematic as Berlin so I try to take another picture with it and the very, very grey sky. A few steps ahead and I get to the Marxs and Engels statutes where a bunch of young kids have gathered to shoot pictures with the two popular culture stars. I get in line as an ex child of communism and take some memorable pics with me and them for the posterity of Facebook.

Image

Museums & Service

Straight ahead is the Museums Island and I am a little lost thinking which one to choose and where to go. The architecture of this place is very open and instructions are as good as missing. The skyline is more than anywhere else composed of cranes. The scenery has something of a film noir which literally gives you the shivers.

After a short visit in Berlin’s History Museum, I go to the Museums Cafe to have a piece of cake and some coffee, it has been a long day, I am freezing and until now, I have lost two pairs of gloves. As I walk in, the waiter yells at me, again in his „charming“ Berlin accent. „Pfffoah! You look destroyed (kaputt) you need to take a double expresso“ I put on a contained face and suggest cappuccino. He doesn’t seem to agree with me but he will bring it anyway. I for the check; he proactively suggest that the Eastern-Europeans don’t  know how to leave a tip and I, out of pure Eastern-European vanity (which he probably counted on) leave a greater tip than he ever expected.

It is raining now cats and dogs and I get on the first bus of the 100-line that I can find, and just ride around for 40 minutes.Image

City Charm

Back at the hotel on the day of departure, I am prepared knowing from last time that the bus to the airport will be late. This time, it isn’t, but still the driver gets out of the bus every other station to try to repair the front door which has decided to stop working.

The airport control line dosen’t make the trip any easier and it takes an eternity until we get past it. But once passed through it, I fell nostalgic for leaving Berlin. It may, not be pretty, or clean or polite but it is the future, and it is very, very free; freedom that can only come from improvisation, freedom that can only be there where before there has been so much restriction.

If you haven’t been to Berlin yet,  please do not go there for the German precision and cleanness… you will hate it. Go to see how Germans can let go of their cliché-made-up characteristics and live in pure, ‚functional’ chaos. Go there to see organized anarchy.

Berlin

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We’re alive!

Small but still not so much, wild but not to wild to be European, in awe to principles but not really sticking to them, very important internationally today but forgotten tomorrow. This is my country,  a Latin language speaking country in a sway of Slavic surroundings.

Here people wish, probably more than anywhere else in Europe to belong… to belong to Europe… to belong to America or any other ‘civilized’ society that may or not have an interest in them.  They are more light-headed and happy-go-lucky than their Slav neighbors but they lack no intensity in comparison to them.

When you leave this country and come back, or even when you are visiting for the first time you will be struck in positive and negative by the intensity. People are really as friendly as they say, and the friendliness is most of the time different to the Western politeness, it is real enthusiasm and interest for the new and foreign.

In this country  traditions and origins are highly thought of but, also here, old people are left to desertion and hunger.  Here new trends are easily picked up on and adopted leading to an amalgam of dusty old and shiny new.

One can be easily annoyed by the recklessness of the society and especially the natives seam to be the  toughest critics when it comes to what is not going right (me making no exception) nevertheless individual responsibility is hardly seen as cause or  even factor of change. Politicly incorrect sentences can fly in and out unbothered into a conversation and ancient superstitions like the ‘evil eye’ are common truths that should never be questioned. People love to dance, dress up, spend impressive hours on the phone and, more than they earn or can afford, on any type of fast moving consumer goods. Beauty and luxury are at the top of the pyramid and everyone is working their way towards that. Social injustice is infuriating and discrimination is not a tabu but, at the same time, compassion is compensating this faults and balancing the society making it bearable.

There is for sure a paradox floating over this little scad of people. They have no patience but they endure to much. When you walk on the streets you see sad serious faces, but at the same time they  love to entertain and be entertained more than anything and can be as cheerful and talkative as any other latin folks.

And still with all these flaws there is one thing that you can not accuse Romania of, being dull. This country does, more than many other western enchanting, functional societies, give you very strong feelings. It makes you feel every bone in your body, makes you feel happy and furious as the same time and is a valuable lesson for all of those who have forgotten what being alive means.

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I do not know what it really is, maybe is my latin blood (who knows if i actually do have any in my family tree) but Italy has become an evident obsession of mine. I have counted and since i moved to Vienna I have been to Italy 8 times already. And no, I do not have any business there and no relatives; actually, while there, or whenever talking to an Italian, i am even self-conscious about my nationality and the fact that Romanians do not have the best of images in my ‘crush’ country. Nevertheless I somehow end up planing most of my vacations in “La Bella Italia”. Easter, my birthday, my boyfriend’s birthday, my mother’s birthday, my honeymoon; these events all seemed logic for me that I share with Italy. I feel there maybe like one feels when he is visiting a rich cousin that has a wonderful stylish home. You feel like you are still with family just that it looks so much better than your own home. Well this rich cousin is for me Italy. I feel that i understand Italy  (a lot better and faster than I understood Austria) -in the end our languages are so similar, we have the same loud mouth, the same bad temper, bad driving skills but also friendliness, joy of life and love of beauty. Just that this cousin that has the same roots as me, has had the luck to have extreme wealth…and culture…and style…This is where I start finding it a little bit unfair but as I am not an envious person i decide to still go and visit him thinking that this style belongs a little bit to me as well and also that maybe, just maybe all this beauty is contagious…
Rom Italy
Roma Italia
Rome Italy

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Vienna is nice but one of the nicest things is to get away from home and see other new places, and now that Vienna has become home for me I tend to get enthusiastic about seeing everything that is around it.
In the past 2 months i have visited 2 very contradictory cities: Amsterdam and Rome. They are as different as two highschool sweethearts that are using a total different type of seduction but are both as attractive and make it hard to compare an choose one of them. Rome is like the pretty popular girl who is looking very stylish but is playing hard to get and has actually less to offer beside her ravishing beauty. Amsterdam instead, is like the sporty natural girl who seems less attractive at a first glance but who disarms you with her unsophistication and genuine style. Yes indeed you read me right, Amsterdam is first of all simple! Uncomplicated, friendly and accessible. The drug and prostitution clichés are of course also true but what i thought i understood now while seeing Amsterdam for the first time is that the regulations there are not the result of a lusty, party society but pure & simple accessibility. Every repression only makes the vice more attractive and alluring. If one has a wish, need or pleasure, Amsterdam is the city that doesn’t want to censure it, is the city that wants to make life easy and fresh and so much more uncomplicated then we people who live down south think it can be. Enjoy the freedom!





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