Berlin

The last place we decided to visit before heading back to Canada ended up being Berlin. We probably should have included a warm place and after being away from home for so long, we were starting to get tired of travelling but being so close to Berlin, I think it’s a very important place to visit and experience and am glad we did visit.

We weren’t expecting there to be snow though and to be as cold when we booked our trip. Fortunately, we did bring our fall coats from Canada which do handle the cold quite well but you do still feel the cold after being outside for long periods of time. Our first day there didn’t have much snow as it looked like it snowed previously but when we woke up the next day, there was about 2 to 3 inches and more snow was falling for the rest of the trip. I think it was just preparing us for our return to Canada. All it did was make me miss having a car that much more.

We ended up staying at Adina Apartment Hotel in Hackescher Markt and is that hotel ever awesome. Probably the best hotel we’ve ever stayed in compared to all the other hotels we stayed at for each of the places we visited. It made me sad that this hotel apartment was nicer than the place we are renting in London. It had a dishwasher and a microwave! Their comforter was weird that it was actuall 2 separate comforters but it worked out. The only problem I had with the hotel, as I do with most hotels, is that they always choose to use down pillows. They’re too soft and don’t provide any support and that the bathroom didn’t have heated floors but otherwise, extremely happy with the hotel.

The bed… it’s glorious…

Museum island was informative and educational and filled with all the usual stuff and after travelling to all these places, they tend to start to feel the same. History is important, don’t get me wrong but you can only take pictures of statues and and old walls so many times which is why I think we tend to take non-serious pictures.

Just another day ruling the world

We also had some tasty meals in Berlin including schnitzel and the best apple strudel I have ever eaten. Some of the best beer I’ve ever drank, which is saying a lot since I don’t actually like beer but it went down pretty easy.

The experience of Berlin was a nice way to close our trips as we count down our final days in London.

This is my gate now…

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Rome

Rome was an incredible city to visit and was extremely happy with the time that we decided to go. Travelling in the off season is probably one of the best ways to visit any city since there’ll be less tourists everywhere which means that there’ll be less lines for each attraction that you visit. Almost all the sites we visited had no lines and when they did have lines, they were very short to non-exisistent.

There was a bit of rain while we were there but it was only for one of the days that we were there so it didn’t stop us from exploring the city although this did result in me having to buy an umbrella while there and since I didn’t want to spend too much, I bought an umbrella from those shady street sellers who are relentless and will ask anybody who doesn’t have an umbrella. They were asking for 5 Euros but was able to get one for 3 Euros because I didn’t really want one and started walking away. The prices always seem to start dropping as soon as you walk away. Unfortunately, the umbrella only lasted one day. It was falling apart near the end of the day because of the winds.

One nice part of Rome is that it is relatively small allowing us to be able to walk to just about all the places we wanted within 30 to 45 minutes from our hotel. Since everything was relatively close, we’d end up stumbling across famous landmarks like the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon and then look down the road and there would appear the Colloseum.

It’s quite grande and amazing

Overall, Rome is an incredible city filled with beautiful sights and extremely tasty food and some of the best coffee we’ll ever have. I don’t even like coffee but what was made for me was delicious.

Just taking it in

Edinburgh

Before we left for Edinburgh, quite a few people said that it was going to be cold. What they keep failing to realize is that we grew up in the cold and that the people that tell us it’s going to be cold, do not actually know what cold is. They know what it’s like to be chilly or for the weather to be brisk but they do not know what it is to be cold. Until you’ve experienced -30 degrees Celsius on a dark evening, you don’t really know cold.

It was windy in Edinburgh but not a cold wind and it was also quite sunny throughout the days that we were there giving some more warmth to our explorations.

Not impressed

The best part of exploring Edinburgh I though was the fact that in sight of just about most of their downtown, you can see Castle Edinburgh on top of the hill. Just sitting there in plain sight for all to see and everybody carrying on in their own world when they have a giant that dates back to apparently 9th century BC. Nothing special, nope. All we have in Edmonton, AB is just the biggest mall in North America but that is no castle as grande as that is.

It’s smaller than you thank

But what a view it is…

The parts I think that I enjoy the most is when we go on walking tours. The one in Amsterdam was interesting and informative but the one we chose to do in Edinburgh was a Witchery tour hosted by Adam Lyal (deceased). This one was in the evening when it turns dark out and the person behind the counter told us they go for fun rather than trying to be super scary, which meant nothing to me as I thought it’d just be us going around Edinburgh and the host telling us about something spooky. What I didn’t expect was entertainment, which we got a whole lot of.

Leone was accused of being a witch. I’m pretty sure he is right.

On our last day, we also checked out their zoo. All I remember is that most of it was us walking uphill throughout the entire facility.

Out of nowhere, a random bird appeared and was pretty curious about us and stayed still enough for me to capture this photo.

Edinburgh was a great place to visit and the fact that we went in sort of an off-season period made it even better I think. Less people out and about. We even went to a Chinese restaurant that had dim sum but still not quite what I wanted. I miss North American Chinese food so much. The food we had was still pretty tasty but on par with the food we have been experiencing in London.

Here’s a summary video of our entire trip

Amsterdam: Electric boogaloo

We headed back to Amsterdam as we wanted to pick up some souvenirs which we didn’t get to pick up the first time we went as well as to explore more of Amsterdam since it wouldn’t be too cold to travel out and about all day.

Our hotel was about a 2 minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal station which was pretty awesome as they also gave us a free upgrade to the executive suite. Inside the room had a king size bed and after sleeping on a double for so long, the king sized felt so big. Can’t imagine anybody who would ever really need a king sized bed. Maybe for couples where both of them move a lot in their sleep or I suppose really big people.

The one full day we had there was spent exploring a little bit further from central Amsterdam as we spent most of our time there on our previous trip and it was nice to not be crowded by all the tourists and locals crowding the streets. It was interesting to see how less crowded the streets get as you go further out. It’s almost as if the city becomes a small town by how much room you get.

As we were exploring that evening, we heard music in the distance but it was moving towards us. It turned out to be a band of about 30-40 musicians marching towards their destination. We decided to follow them for the rest of the evening and enjoy their show. They handed out a flyer at one point for their group called Ricciotti Ensemble and they have been playing around Amsterdam the entire day and were nearing the end of today’s tour.

After visiting Amsterdam for the second time, I don’t think we’ll hit any other places we’ve already visited as we found that we actually did most of what we wanted to do the first time and we really should be focusing on visiting new places. Still had a great time in Amsterdam and I am glad we got a chance to visit it.

Paris

Paris has made itself to the top of my favourite places to visit so far. I found everything about it amazing; the people, the food, the architecture. The best part of the trip though was meeting up with our friends Alex and Bonnie from back home as they speak normal with no accent. We took a two hour Eurostar train from London to Paris which was a nice change from flying but for a good chunk of the ride was underground so you couldn’t really see much. The fact that Paris is only a 2 hour train ride away still boggles my mind as that is closer than driving to Calgary from Edmonton. Not as cheap but still closer.

One of the first oddities I noticed was that there was graffiti everywhere. If there was an open wall, there was graffiti. Even in places where you didn’t think people should be able to get to but it was there. All along the walls that follow the train tracks as well as in their metro stations underground between platforms there was graffiti on just about every inch of the wall. Ridiculous when you think about it but I think Paris embraces their graffiti culture as it wasn’t often painted over from what I can tell.

From the train station we exited from, we decided to walk to our hotel as it was a really beautiful day out. I’m not really sure exactly why we decided to walk but I think we thought it wasn’t actually that far but turned out to be about an hour or two walk away and we didn’t even actually make it to our hotel. We were getting pretty tired near the end and called a taxi from the road which drove us about 5 minutes away to our hotel. We were so close yet so far.

The hotel we stayed at was the Platine and it had a hollywood theme going on focused on Marylin Monroe.

After settling into our hotel, we took an hour nap before heading out to explore Paris. Our hotel was about a 20 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower and it was quite the sight to see. I never imagined the Eiffel Tower to be as big as it was. I thought it was smaller for some reason. It’s an amazing attraction to see.

The Arc de Triomphe was pretty cool but not as cool as the Eiffel Tower. We ended up not going to the top of it as we were feeling pretty cheap so we walked around the lower areas of it.

While stumbling around Paris, we found Moulin Rouge unintentionally. Not as exciting as I thought it was going to be.

The Notre Dame Cathedral also not as grande as I imagined. For some reason, I either imagine all these attractions to be bigger or smaller than they actually happen to be.

We found our way towards the Louvre and we saw that it didn’t even have that long of a line. I think it had about 30-50 at most and that would probably only take about a half-hour to an hour wait maybe and we still didn’t go inside. We took our pictures outside and moved along. I can’t say exactly why we decided to not go in but I am fine with just being around these attractions everybody in the world talks about.

Paris was beautiful and the food was so tasty after eating in London for so long. Everywhere we went to eat was delicious and I miss it dearly already. The people were extremely friendly even though we spoke with our horrible Canadian french, they never made rude comments or snuffed us on service. Everybody also said that the city had an odor but it didn’t smell like anything.

I’m glad we went and I will have fond memories of Paris.