Summer Fun

Christoph and I have been thoroughly enjoying our time in Berlin; the slow mornings, long walks, various coffee houses and just being outdoors in the warmth and under clear blue skies makes us happy.

Last Tuesday, we took a train to Hamburg, stayed overnight and visited Christoph’s mum the next day. We had lunch at the Hotel Atlantic which, I didn’t know at the time, is an iconic landmark in Hamburg. It’s also iconic for being the home to Udo Lindenberg, an über famous German rocker, musician and composer who has lived in the hotel for 23 years! So cool!

After lunch we took a walk around the Alster and gawked at the many huge mansions on Schöne Aussicht (that’s the street name, ‘Beautiful View’) and Bellevue (another street meaning ‘Beautiful View’). We stopped frequently for drinks and to watch the people running, walking and paddling by. A great way to spend the day.

We then visited Christoph’s mum in Bordeshölm the next day and had another relaxed and easy time together. In the afternoon, we took the train from Bordeshölm to Hamburg with a connection to Berlin. We arrived with an hour to spare and decided to grab light dinner before taking our 20:34h train. We were back at the station at 20:30h to find out that our train had been delayed and due to depart at the new time of 21:50h. Ugh. There was a brief storm earlier in the day and the delay involved the fire department. Christoph had a sneaky suspicion that the delay will be longer so we went to see if we could rent a car. Two car rental places had run out of cars and we finally found one that technically didn’t have anything left but the nice man at the counter freed a car up for us. 21:00h we were in a car and on the way back to Berlin. While on the road, we kept an eye on the train schedule and saw that the train had indeed been delayed once again, due to depart at 23:15h to arrive in Berlin at 01:30h. You can just imagine how glad we were that we didn’t sit around and wait for the train.

Top and clockwise: Christoph learning about film sets, the garden from a TV story, a typical scene from the Middle Ages, the set for the Three Musketeers show.

Top and clockwise: Christoph learning about film sets, the garden from a TV story, a typical scene from the Middle Ages, the set for the Three Musketeers show.

We got back to Berlin very tired but happy that it worked out somehow. As we had the car for 24 hours, we thought to make the most of it. We ran errands in the morning and in the afternoon, drove out to the Babelsberg Filmpark which is attached to the famous Babelsberg Film Studios. The Babelsberg Film Studios are ‘the Hollywood studios’ of Germany and according to Wikipedia are ‘the oldest large-scale film studios in the world, producing films since 1912’. We always thought to take a look but one needs a car to get there or else it’s a very long bus ride. So off we went to the Filmpark. This is my description of it: You know those B-rated horror movies where a group of friends break into an abandoned theme park and find themselves getting murdered one after the other by a psychotic themepark caretaker? Well this would be the perfect setting. The Filmpark was built in 1991 but feels much older. It has various interactive shows; the stunt show at the volcano, the animal show, the three musketeers... all performed by the same people ;o) If you have a chance, there are many other things to see in Potsdam, you can skip this ‘highlight’.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Greetings from tropical Hawaii! We’re spending the time relaxing, reading and sightseeing and plan to see in the new year with a lovely hike along the coastline later today :-)

Braving the strong winds to check out the beautiful views from the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout on Oahu.

Braving the strong winds to check out the beautiful views from the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout on Oahu.

We arrived in Honolulu and after 5 nights in Waikiki, we hopped over to Kauai for a few days :-) Kauai is called the ‘Garden Island’ and is where the original Jurassic Park was filmed. The island definitely lives up to its name and to better explore the area, we rented a jeep for the duration of our stay. There’ll be some off-road driving and hiking adventures ahead! Yeah!

Top left and clockwise; the Tunnel of Trees, view from Nu’uanu Pali, Christoph’s favourite spot at Poipu and the Wailua Waterfalls.

Top left and clockwise; the Tunnel of Trees, view from Nu’uanu Pali, Christoph’s favourite spot at Poipu and the Wailua Waterfalls.

Wishing you all many adventures, laughter and fun ahead in the Year Of The Dog!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

I have been pre-occupied since late September and have neglected to keep you posted as to our whereabouts. We are currently in Athens on the last day of our Mid-Autumn Festival getaway and have had an amazing trip thus far. Most of our time was spent on Sifnos Island, with us flying into and out of Athens. I promise proper photos will be available in due course.

Sunrise at the Church of the Seven Martyrs, Sifnos Island

Sunrise at the Church of the Seven Martyrs, Sifnos Island

We both send you all our best wishes for the Mid-Autumn Festival to our friends and family in Asia and for those in Europe, we hope you had a fun time celebrating Oktoberfest! Prost!

And The Summer Continues...

Yes I am still in Berlin! Woohoo! Christoph is back in Shanghai battling the high humidity and heat while I continue my German language immersion through fun activities like bike riding and yoga. I recently spent a day riding through Potsdam with a friend, ED, and in between coffee breaks and gelato breaks, we managed to see a lot of what the area has to offer.

A brilliant day in Potsdam. Here at the Babelsberg Castle.

A brilliant day in Potsdam. Here at the Babelsberg Castle.

I love the freedom that comes from being on a bike. You travel faster than walking but slow enough to soak in your surroundings and stop at the very last minute when you see something you like. We were riding towards Glienicke Bridge (for those of you who saw the film 'The Bridge of Spies', well that's the bridge) I caught a glimpse of a stunning garden behind a wall that I coudn't resist but to investigate. Lo and behold, we had accidentally stumbled onto the Villa Schöningen which dates back to 1843. The villa has a tumultous history and after many years of neglect, it is now an exhibition venue and part of the Berlin-Potsdam's UNESCO World Heritage Site. Should you ever find yourself in this particular part of world, this house and garden by a significant bridge is worth seeking out.

Top left and clockwise: The Glienicke Bridge in the distance, part of the Wall that ran past the villa - can you spot Merkel's signature?, the villa's garden, there's Angela!

Top left and clockwise: The Glienicke Bridge in the distance, part of the Wall that ran past the villa - can you spot Merkel's signature?, the villa's garden, there's Angela!

It was an excellent day of discovery and I can't wait to get Christoph out here with me next summer!

Now It Really Begins!

Christoph and I are back together again and he is now 100% on vacation! Yay! Though the weather has to still work out what it wants to do, we at least had a dry day yesterday and spent it on a long walk through the city. And as one does, we included plenty of intermittent beverage stops to make sure we had the strength the keep going ;o)

Things change or come and go, but much of the city remains vibrant and dynamic. During each of our visits, we find it wonderful how much we still admire our 'second home'.

Grey but still a cool place. 

Grey but still a cool place. 

We now have two whole weeks of summer together and plan to make the most of it. Lots of reading, sleeping in, bike-riding, eating and hopefully we can squeeze in a music event or two. Living life to the fullest baby!

Mini Vacation

While Christoph has been melting in Shanghai, I've just come back from a three day visit to friends, MP and BP, in Budapest. The last time I was in Budapest was with Linh in 2013 when we went around and explored most of the major tourist spots. In turn, this trip was different in that I could spend time with actual residents and got to see the city from a local's perspective. And it was exceptional!

Clockwise from top left: the stairwell to my friends' apartment, the facade of a trendy city hostel, the extremely steep escalators in the subway, wall art at the Passage. 

Clockwise from top left: the stairwell to my friends' apartment, the facade of a trendy city hostel, the extremely steep escalators in the subway, wall art at the Passage. 

Budapest has been driven by tourism to improve its facilities and offerings and it must be paying off because they are currently hosting the FINA Championships; the opening ceremony was on Friday 14, July. My friends tell me that there have been lots of roadworks, repairs and general beautification leading up to the the FINA event. On my first day, we took out the bikes and rode along the Danube where new bike paths had been laid and well-thought areas built for public use. It was a great day to be outdoors and a great way to see the city.

Clockwise from top left: traditional kürtóskalács with a twist- this one is smaller than the original as the shop uses them to serve icecream instead of a cone, Kávétársaság- great coffee and space, tofu with shiso paste and roasted pecans at Nobu, Espresso Embassy- also serving really good coffee

Clockwise from top left: traditional kürtóskalács with a twist- this one is smaller than the original as the shop uses them to serve icecream instead of a cone, Kávétársaság- great coffee and space, tofu with shiso paste and roasted pecans at Nobu, Espresso Embassy- also serving really good coffee

In the years since I was in Budapest, the city has had an influx of high quality restaurants and cafes. The typical Hungarian cuisine of heavy meats, potatoes and carrots is still there but the newer establishments are now offering lighter, healthier fare which I was very excited to see. I was able to eat very well each day with minimal meat, I had some fish on a couple of occasions, but I would never have thought that I could avoid meat in Budapest four years ago. At Marga Bistro, the barley risotto with chanterelles was excellent and then a spinach salad with olive tepanade and pickles at Szimply showed me that salads are still in. On my last evening we dined at Nobu where I had a 7 course vegetarian omakase menu which was divine. I ate very well in Budapest :o)

I was very happy to be surprised by the dining scene but the greatest surprise was the emerging coffee culture. Berlin has the past two years introduced the flat white, a quintessential Australian coffee, but in the various Budapestian cafes we went to, they all used artisan roasted beans and served flat whites. Therefore, please go visit Budapest if you haven't already and enjoy not only the history and baths, but also the fresh emerging vibrant restaurants and cafes!

Taking A Breather

It's been an ultra busy month for Christoph and I and my apologies for neglecting my blog in that time. We have settled nicely into our home and have been diligent in trying to create a good routine for ourselves in looking after our health and balancing our work and social life.

However, as with the hectic pace of China, we were very relieved that the Mid-Autumn Festival public holiday gave us a chance to get away from Shanghai for a few days. Christoph definitely needed a breather; so what better way to recuperate than to sleep, eat, swim and get plenty of massages? We loved being back in Bangkok and kept wondering why we ever left?

After the weekend, we now both feel rested, refreshed and ready for the what lies ahead. Christoph is already back at work getting ready for the company's official opening this week, an event that I'm disappointed that I won't be there for. Instead, I have a trip through Thailand and Myanmar with my sisters that was planned half a year ago. I arrived in Chiang Mai this morning and will be making my rendez-vous with them in a few hours. All in all, there's a lot of exciting things happening all round. I will keep you posted.