Ah, so it’s the time of the year again. 2017 has been the year of all years for everyone. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t felt some difficulty this year. Friends, family, and actual countrymen have suffered in one way or another and prayed for the year to be over with.
This year for me has been all over the place. It started off alone after a bad break up.I’m still working in a job that shows no sign of personal development for my career. I have a degree in business going to waste with this place. It then got worse when a new employee made my work life difficult and the support from HR was to accuse me of being the problem. I’M HER BOSS!! I then had an area manager who attacked me on a personal level, commenting in an unprofessional manner, resulting in me spending almost 3 weeks in bed with low mood and anxiety. Then to top it all off, my first time abroad was marred by losing my backpack with some rather expensive gear inside.
But I cannot say the entire year was bad. I’ve made some amazing new friends throughout. I got to see BeF become her best person yet. I actually got to bond with her more than the year previous and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her. I went abroad for the first time to one of the most spectacular places on the planet. And I completely cut my emotions off from the man who betrayed my trust and moved on to greater men. So the glitter is there, and it shines brightly.
So as this is the time where we make those life-changing decisions to become better people, and all too often fail on day one, I pledge to put mine forward for you kind folk.
Read my books
So I have quite a LOT of books I have yet to read (insert embarrassed emoji here). I fought very hard to get hold of all the Miss Marple books by my favourite author Agatha Christie. With thanks to my good friend Chris who treated me to a bunch, my collection developed and I had to complete it. I’ve seen all the ITV episodes, I even have them on boxset. After reading And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express, I had to read more.
However, my books have just sat there on my shelf untouched (unlike me) and begging to be thumbed through (no comment). So I was going to cancel my Netflix subscription (ESCANDALO!) and will focus on my paperbacks, but I don’t think I can (DOUBLE ESCANDALO!).
Carve out a new career
Ok, that title is a little extreme. I just want to remove myself from my current situation. I’ve come as far as I am able to sadly and there is very little room for development. With a degree in Business IT behind me and the greatest skill of adaptability, I know I can do better and make an impact in wherever I go. So the job hunt and CV scripting will commence! Obviously, I’m contemplating a more admin based role. The only problem here is that a high majority of them don’t pay so well and thus I really do need to find something that at least meets what I’m on now.
In addition to this, I was undertaking training for another profession and so I think I will pick that back up as I really don’t want the time and money spent on it to go to waste. Whether I take that career route or not is beside the point. The £3000 spent on it is what really matters!
Get my body back under control
Again, that misleading title makes it all sound extreme. Kinda makes me think about that “calm your tits” meme. The truth is, I have major body issues (shocking I know!). But back in the day, I used to weigh 16st 8lbs (105kg or 232lbs). Yeah, I know right. The lowest I got my weight down to was 10st 11lbs (68.5kg or 151lbs) and I was so happy. My body was smaller (an XXS to be precise) with a great bum and legs (just saying). And thankfully the latter two remained. However, I have put on some of the weight and I am not happy. So I’m going to reboot the ole Slimming World diet routine alongside my gym plan. I want to focus on a high veggie diet with healthy lean meats. The great thing about Slimming World is that you can eat almost every meal known to man. So bring me a burger, toss me that pizza and don’t you dare skip out the ice cream! I just need to manage my time more effectively to prepare these meals. And thankfully I’m not that far off from where I need to be. It’s just the effort that is life.
Regards the exercise, I’ll continue my gym time. But I will also pick up my 100 sit-ups a day, with greater determination than before. The time I did this, I made it to day 66. I went down two jean sizes, my abs were firmer, my chest was more developed and my shoulders too. WHY DID I STOP?! Well, not this time. Also, I’m forbidding BeF from being a bad influence and making me eat junk food all the time! BAD BeF!
Restructuring the diet for the greater good
Following on from body maintenance, I need to rethink what I’m putting inside of me (keep your filthy comments to yourself, BEN!). When I lost my first 3 stone, I was on an almost vegetarian diet with Slimming World. I would eat massive portions of salads or vegetables and I was never hungry. I’d snack on bananas and fat-free yogurts like it was nobody’s business. I’m thinking of starting January with the same fashion, going vegetarian for as much as possible, and even forcibly putting my foot down to friends and family who do not wish to support my intentions and who try to force me to eat bad foods or foods that are not in my diet plan. They don’t realise that they are detrimental to my weight problems, and my body dysmorphia concerns.
But then I can’t blame them completely. Below is a year in food
So that’s it. Four little things, what should easily be achievable. Right? RIGHT?! And if any of you awesome peeps want to help me achieve this by encouraging me and checking in every now and then, feel free to Tweet me, shoot a message here or find me on Instagram and tag me in my old fat photos.
And before you go, what are your 2018 plans? And how are you planning to go about achieving them?
So I have been nominated. Sadly this person hasn’t put me forward for something more serious like Prime Minister or Miss United States but that’s fine, whatever, I still have a tiara. Anywho, I was nominated by the BEAUTIFUL and SUPER TALENTED S, author of Something So True, for the Mystery Blogger Award. My relationship with this woman is simple: she’s great at motivating me, she’s a positive breath of fresh air and she will champion anyone and everyone who deserves it! I’m so glad I know you S, and thank you for being you.
Before we start though, the Mystery Blogger award was developed by Okoto Oke Enigma. Her comments on it are:
“Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma
And the rules are as such:
Put the award logo/image on your blog
List the rules.
Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
Share a link to your best post(s)
That was copied and pasted from her post regards this award. Check her out or so help me I’mma cyber stalk you into oblivion.
Now then, back to me because I’m selfish like that. And don’t look at me like that; this is a post about me after all.
So S asked the following questions and I have answered them thusly…
What’s makes you, YOU. How do you stand out from everyone else?? *Self Love Moment*
I honestly don’t know what to say. I think something that will surprise a lot of people is the fact that I really don’t like me. Many years of depression and low self-esteem, coupled with morbid obesity, you tend to become less and less confident in who you are as a person. So for this one, I actually asked some friends to answer for me and I wish I didn’t…
These peeps were far too sweet. The other’s were FAR too adult for this blog!
If you could change anything by the power of blogging what would it be and why?
People’s personal perceptions. I know it’s ironic for me to say this but I just wish more and more people would see how amazing they are. You don’t have to western society’s definition of beautiful or educated to Ph.D. level. You don’t have to be the most athletic or super talented at everything in the book. Just. Be. You. Just be you. No one can make you do more than you can do. You are amazing in your own right. It may be as simple as making the perfect cup of tea to knowing exactly what subspecies that bunch of lilies belong to. You have something that no one else can do and that’s all that matters.
What’s your favourite restaurant dish you’ve eaten this year?
This year my favourite restaurant dish was a discovery in Berlin. This fantastic little Asian fusion burger restaurant had the most devastatingly delicious burger I’ve had in years. Please see the pictures below and a link to the blog you’ll find full deets on it.
What made you decide that blogging was for you?
Well unlike most of my blogging pals, blogging isn’t a career or passion for me. Now PLEASE calm down. Blogging for me is just a way for me to offload my thoughts, feelings, and opinions that I just can’t quite say to people in person. And that isn’t to say I don’t love blogging, I just don’t see it as something I personally would go into as a career. I love to write and even contemplated a career in journalism, albeit on the magazine design side. Nevertheless, writing new things gives me a sense of wellness and when I was much younger I would write poetry and stories all the time, some of which I still possess now. Maybe someday I’ll share a few.
What’s your funniest holiday/ travelling story? Tell me your destination & tale
It was when I was heading to London for the first time on my own as a grown adult. I was 18 and I had to attend enrolment. I had never travelled this far alone before (the sheltered life, I know) and so it was all a mystery to me. I got the train from my hometown and had to change at another station. I got off at that station and waited on the correct platform to wait for my train. At first, the platform was empty and I just happily waited for it. Back then I didn’t have a Smartphone so I couldn’t even look up train details or just busy myself with a game or Facebook. Then this train pulls into the station. The doors open and the people get off and it just sits there. The clock ticks by and I’m just staring at this train that has been sat there for a few minutes in the place where my train is due to arrive. I start to panic that I’ve messed up and my train is actually on another platform or that it has been delayed or cancelled. I pace the platform looking at monitors wondering what had happened to my train. Then a light bulb moment occurs and I think to myself “is that my train?” I turn at stare at the train. Just as I decide to walk towards the doors, the slam shut and off it goes. That was my train. Oh for goodness sakes.
Thankfully another trained pulled into the opposite platform and I hopped on. Oddly enough, it arrived before the other one, so that was good. But now I had to navigate the underground. Fudge. I look carefully at the map. The twisting colours of train lines were all confusing to me at first but I soon realised what train I needed and where to get off. I go down to the platform. I get on the train. I get off the train. I RUN up the stairs of said station and realise after 25 steps (I had intense counting OCD back then) that I had made a grave mistake. But I didn’t stop. I was too embarrassed of my mistake. There wasn’t even anyone watching my mistake. I ran the entire flight of 117 steps, and when I reached the top, I was a hot, red, sweaty mess. Again, I was obese back then. The woman who was coming through the barrier looked at me with sheer horror, but not enough to stop and help as I wheezed up a lung. I learned my lesson that day I assure you.
So there you have it. Some pretty mundane answers to be honest. I’d love to fancy them up but my life really isn’t that interesting regards things I can actually talk about online. Maybe one day when I’m rich I can tell you the more interesting stories of my life…
And I’d nominate someone, but the problem is, everyone I know has either already done this or is about to do it, so I’m just gonna leave my questions here and see who replies with their answers…
If you were a song, what would you be and why?
Where do you see next year taking you in life?
What is your perfect meal?
What artist/band do you recommend that no one else has probably heard of?
Describe your idea of a perfect date? (There should only be one answer to this. Get it wrong and you and I will be having strong words)
Previously in Jimmy’s world *dramatic telenovela music plays overhead*. As a bunch of you know, back at the end of November, I went to Berlin. My adventure started off quite rocky with the loss of a backpack of technology, frustration at Google navigation and a whole heap of stress and discomfort. Now if this is the first time you’re reading this, welcome and WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?! You can read part 1 and part 2 of My Berlin Adventure and then catch us back here after… Now, let us conclude this tale once and for all!
29/11/17: History at a low, adventure on a high
Today was a day I wanted to conclude my adventure. While I still had tomorrow to complete things, I felt it best to have my list completed now and use tomorrow to have some random adventure in the Christmas markets. So we set off around 8:30am, checking out the Brandenburg Tor (Brandenburg Gate) as we wandered around to the stones of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This site was very impactful, and through wandering amongst them I beg to feel intimidated and frail. I felt less human and more like a trapped thing as these towering blocks lurched over me. It had me thinking “is this how they felt? Is this how over 6 million Jewish men, women, and children felt, during one of history’s biggest horror stories?” A cold chill ran down my spine and I felt regret for the people once more. We decided not to visit the information centre, where a list of names of those lost could be found and went forth to Checkpoint Charlie.
We wandered around a site what we later discovered was an additional part of the museum we were going to. Here you could find information about Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin wall, as well as take a (in my opinion quite morbid) photo under an archway that had been left behind of the way. We then found the museum, which surprisingly wasn’t that simple, thank you “German efficiency”, and began our tour around. Now for a little background information, my ancestry is actually Hungarian on my mother’s side. For those in the know, Hungary was one of Hitler’s places of terror and so to see a part of the hell culture in place, I didn’t feel so well. The picture below shows stones which were taken from the Budapest Ghetto. Now I do not fully know my ancestry as of yet, but in consultation with my mother, she does believe we could, in fact, be Jewish. Shalom! Someone send me an Ancestry DNA testing kit, thanks!
Touring the rest of the exhibit, I learned where the name came from, the atrocities faced by the people on either side, and the great lengths people took to get to the other side to be with friends and loved ones. These people lived in fear and tyranny for years, being separated by only 6cm and fear of prosecution or death. It was actually a story I read in a cafe next door where a young boy of 6 recalled the events around his life of not seeing his childhood friend again through to the day his mother gave a smiling nod to her mother in law the day the wall came down. I cried. We then upped ourselves and went to the Jewish Museum.
Now when it comes to something like this, I had to hold the utmost respect and decided I was not to take a photo of what was inside. Instead, I wanted to remain fully committed to learning more about the Jewish people and their history. We dropped off our things at the cloakroom and went down some steep steps into the museum. As we walked down a searchlight came spinning around, like in the movies, as a way to immerse you in the experience the people felt. This may sound odd but I loved this. I liked that this museum was trying to get you to feel how those persecuted must have felt. After reviewing the map, DD and I entered a sensory chamber which had light and sound effects to add to the feeling of terror. This lead us to some lifestyle and event information pods which detailed the everyday lives of the people and the first steps of Hitler’s regime against the Jews. As we were reading, we heard loud banking and rapping of what sounded like a letterbox. I was impressed with the commitment this museum had. I was trying, and successfully so, to truly engage you with what those persecuted would have felt. Fear. To me it was as if the secret police were at the door, banging the door, rattling the letterbox and demanding you come outside. I was there. I was at that house where mothers, fathers, and children were torn apart and sent to concentration camps. I was reliving their lives… But it turns out they were doing some repair work on a fire exit door and I just felt like a complete and utter twonk. MOVING ON!
We wandered up the stairs of what seemed like a million steps and entered a bright, ancient artefact room. Here you saw how the religion began and how the people lived. You even had a chance to write your name in Hebrew and this is where I took my one and only photo. Exploring further in, we learned more about the culture of the Jewish people, their daily routines and the discrimination they experienced throughout history. On reflection, at the time DD and I thought that the museum was never-ending. We would discover one new area after another, after another. To me now, that symbolised that the Jewish people’s history is never ending and that they are continued to be persecuted to this day, some 3000+ years later. I truly wish they get the peace they deserve.
From here we accidentally found the Topography of Terror. To be fair we did want to go here but with Google maps being awful, we stumbled across it by mere coincidence. Outside, you could see a large portion of the Berlin wall intact. Again, 6 centimetres apart from your family. Just think about that for a second. Stepping out of the cold and into the warm, FREE exhibition, we took a look into the what was one of the main headquarters during the Nazi regime. With my slow reading speed I took my time while DD sped through it like a chipmunk on acid. When we did catch up at one point, I commented on the fact that every board that we came across would say something like “the Security Service (SS)…” when they really only need put it on the very first one and continue to use SS throughout the museum. Now I mention this because I told him this he looked me square in the eye and told me in a rather belittling style to shush. I commented how it was interesting he could moan about “German efficiency” but I could not. He then walked off and I honestly felt about 2 feet tall and it kinda left a bad feel to the rest of the evening. But I carried on reading through and a couple of things caught my attention. One of which, the persecution of the homosexuals. It actually turns out, that before then the German people were a little more ok with it and thought as long as they kept themselves to themselves, it’s all good. They were pinned with a pink triangle to signal their “crime” and many were prosecuted and sentenced to death.
Another piece which caught my attention is something which actually ran my blood cold. As you may recall, I mentioned my Hungarian ancestry and that the people were also sent to the ghetto and concentration camps. At first I was able to disconnect myself from the atrocities. It happened to people I did not know and in a time which didn’t directly affect my timeline*. But the thing what left me feeling cold and numb was that when I read about the actions in Hungary, there was a photo attached of people being marched to the ghetto, and in this photo there was a young woman. This woman looked familiar. Very familiar. Far too familiar. This woman looked just like my mother. That’s right folks, I began to have a mini panic attack that pictured right in front of me could be one of my ancestors in an oppressive state. And I don’t mean she had a similar haircut or the same nose. This woman was a bang on 100% spitting image of my mother. My stomach was churning, my body was aching and my mind was racing. I couldn’t tell DD as he often shuts down my thoughts and feelings (ok yeah no I’m beginning to wonder what our connection is) and so I, unfortunately, had to process this alone. I won’t detail that process here as I feel it’s something that needs a deeper, personal investigation before publication.
By this time it was still early afternoon and so we wandered through a Christmas market, soaking in the bright lights and colourful goodies for sale, as well as inhaling the gorgeous scent of good food. This German Christmas market was just beautiful. It was vibrant and fun and just spectacular. I implore you to visit at least one.
We then decided to do a night time viewing of the city at the Fernstrum, a huge tower with a viewing deck over Berlin and restaurant too. Here we could see for miles and see just how vast Berlin really was. You could see the different landmarks nearby, the gorgeous buildings and architecture as well as the bright lights of the different Christmas markets around. The sight was breathtaking and at 203 meters up, I felt so humble and simple in a vast world of complexity.
I was glad to say I was ending this evening with a whole new perspective. There are people out there past and present who have experienced some of the worst horrors imaginable. There are people out there who had to give up simple things like cutlery, clothing and toys while I was having a mini tantrum on day 1 that I lost my belongings. Again, at the time these things do seem like hell at first and it’s only right that someone should feel that way. And the following day I really did not care that it was all gone. But after what I read today, I hoped that someone did find my stuff, and I hoped they went for two options: hand it in to lost and found or donate it all to charity, because there would be someone out there who could benefit more from it than I needed to. We took a tram back to the hotel with some snacks, cuddled up to Crazy Ex Girlfriend and fell soundly asleep.
30/11/17: Christmas Markets and the German Victory
So now we come to my last day in Berlin. I was excited to come home. I missed my little home comforts and I really wanted to tell my friends about the amazing time I had. I wanted to tell my mother about the experiences that brought up emotion regards out heritage. I wanted to be back in my own bed! Nevertheless, I did fully enjoy my experience and despite the awful start, my life continues.
Packing my luggage, DD and I went off to drop my bag at the luggage store at the Hauptbahnhof before separating ways. By the way, before I left my hotel, I was made to pay a city tax of just over €10, which was fine but at no point did Expedia or the hotel themselves inform me this would be a thing. Whether you’re a first time traveller or seasoned pro, this information should be given to everyone. Anywho, we popped by case into a locker, which I hadn’t noticed was by birthday date! Spooky, eh! We shared a hug goodbye and off DD went to finish his last 3 days in the city.
Now before I did anything, I went upstairs to find out what time my last train to the airport would be. Due to the fact that they were doing major engineering works, there was no direct train to the airport (smart move Germany). I took a photo and was aware I needed to be back here for a train at 7:15. From here, I opened Google maps and checked out what direction I needed to head towards for some Christmas markets. I hoped on an underground train and got off at Potsdamer platz where I walked around a Christmas market and nibbled on some pure goodness. The vibes these markets were giving me were just fantastic. They were cosy and charming, fun and fancy. I was really getting into the Christmasy vibe and I thank you Berlin for giving that back to me.
Hopping from one market to another, I savoured some sweet treats including Quarkbällchen, sorta like a sweet doughnut ball dusted with icing sugar, Schoko-Bananen, a skewered banana dipped in chocolate (I’m now famous in Berlin for how I ate this before realising I could move it up the shaft), a sugar pretzel, which was kind of like a pretzel shaped doughnut and a Nutella Schneeballen, which was a ball of layered shortcrust pastry with Nutella spread on different layers, coated with milk chocolate and hazel nuts. OH MY GOODNESS THEY WERE ALL SO GOOD! I want a gazillion more please, thanks!
Each market was pretty much the same so I would advise you don’t run your visit off the idea that you’re going to hop across the different markets as you may end up pretty disappointed. Instead, do what I did and check out the history and the culture, leaving the markets as a night time treat.
After I left the markets I decided I wanted to actually try some German cuisine. With DD in tow, my submissive nature pretty much followed his call for eats and so I was missing out on what I really wanted. This isn’t a dig at him, I’m like it with anyone, ask BeF. So I went to some of the malls and found their food courts where I tried Currywurst, which is basically sausage in a curry-ketchup sauce (sounds basic, tasted perfect) and a German Kebab, where I had tender strips of chicken doner, a mix of lettuce, onion, white and red cabbage and lashings of three difference sauces spread across both sides of a soft, toasted bun. Now kids, I’m not gonna lie, I do love a kebab. Sober or drunk, I will face plant a greasy, meaty, salad filled wrap. Sue me. But they now all fail in comparison to this! There was no grease and it was pure healthy. The meat was soft and tender and the crunch of the salad added a sweet taste while the sauce mix added a sour cream and tang to the mix. I really wanted another one but felt that that would raise eyebrows.
From here I took one final adventure towards the Tiergarten, a mass landscape of wooded parks to help one immerse himself with nature. It was here that I felt so peaceful, so at ease with it all. The further I went in, the quieter it got. I could not hear people or cars. The only sounds came from the chill air, the rustling treats and the footsteps of follower admirers. As I wandered further in, I noticed something in the distance, a pillar of sorts, and took my venture in that direction. On approaching, I discovered it was the Berlin Victory Column. And as curiosity peaked, I made my way to reach it.
At a bargain €3 entry, I explored this fabulous extravagance with pleasure. This mini museum was one of my favourite parts of my trip as I discovered it to be very insightful. It was here that I discovered that the Germans went out of their way to sponsor architects to produce monuments and museums to commemorate where they had come from and where they wanted to go. Along with this, they even displayed different monuments from around the world including, France, England, Austria and New York. It was here I gained inspiration to check out the Notre Dame Cathedral as my next adventure. I walked up a small flight of stairs and came to the first floor where I saw a lovely view of the city in the distance. On the column itself was a mosaic of reds, blues and gold, depicting a scene of some sort. After taking my pictures, I went back in and began the trek up the 285 steps (yes, my fear of heights began to settle in half way up) to the top of the column. Once there, I was blessed with stunning views of across the city of Berlin. The view was breathtaking and similar to the feeling at the Fernstrum, I felt humble in my simple life over the complexity that was the rest of the world. I didn’t stay too long as my anxiety began to take over and I wandered back down the staircase, encouraging another high fearing friend along the way that it was safe up there and worth it.
It wasn’t long after this that I walked back to the centre of Berlin, picked up my suitcase and got myself (stressfully) to the airport. It was a short process of checking in, examination of luggage before the laborious wait to get on our now delayed plane. We left 40 minutes later than expected due to engineering concerns (WHAT!? Yeah no my fears of flying kicked back in and were exacerbated by some moron who took a phone call as we began take off!). Anywho, we flew softly, yet more noisily than on our way out (breathing increases), back to Bristol Airport. I caught sight of the beautiful world below me at night, the city lights and village glows all mesmerising to someone now thousands of feet in the air. The journey itself was not stressful, just long, as my phone was only on 2%. But as we arrived at Bristol, we had a little turbulence and my stomach took part in the Olympics gymnastics trials for 2018 (breathing becomes hurricane like).
We all got off the plane, walked through the freezing winds and onto a shuttle bus where I stupidly looked up and saw a guy and said to myself “oh my god, he was on the same flight as me and got the same stop, what a coincidence” before remembering that this was not a bus journey. I tucked my head into my neck to warm myself up as we drove off. I then scuttled off the bus and through the gates where a machine scanned my passport and confirmed that I looked like my photo (kind of offended, not gonna lie). I walked along the long corridor and bust through doors like Liza Minelli, where I was greeted by my friend Ben who I previously text to say he best damn give me a big hug because I was stressed. And this, ladies, gentlemen, and anyone in between, is where my journey ends… Or is it?
Just one final point…
I GOT MY BACKPACK BACK! My iPad, my toothbrush, my Beats by Dre headphones, my iPhone cables, my travel adaptor, my mini toiletries and my powerbank were all safe and sound! So the day after I got home, I emailed the lost and found and after a while we discovered they had my bag and it was safe! What was even better was the fact that DD was allowed to pick it up and bring it back to the UK. So I wish to send a heartfelt thank you to whoever found my bag and handed it in. You’ve made a 25 year old with the mentality of a little boy very happy. Auf Wiedersehen und gute Nacht!
My dear reader, I hope you’ve enjoyed my adventure. I hope you liked the good, the bad and the hungry, I hope you take my experience and make something of your own. If you’re a first-time flyer, feel free to be free. Flying is not so bad and the experience has actually changed my life. I’ve overcome one of my biggest fears and now the world is my oyster (providing Brexit doesn’t actually become such a bum deal). And for those who’ve flown many-a-time, I hope you make Germany a part of your bucket list. It’s a beautiful place, a wonderful culture, and a fun-filled fantasy to embrace. Just DON’T leave your luggage on the damn train!
*I must point out that I do not think it any less significant than what it was. I am fully aware of what happened and I am compassionate of what happened. I just do not feel like it is something that affects my life today. If you think me wrong, please leave a comment and educate me, I love to learn.
So as y’all know, I’ve recently been to Berlin! This was my first time flying and traveling abroad. But what you also know is that it didn’t start off so well… But if you’re just finding me now, first of all WELCOME! And second, here’s a link to My Berlin Adventure – (Part 1)
Now let us continue the story…
27/11/17: Finding my bearings and the history of Germany
Despite the turning of the clocks and the end of summer, I’ve been waking up on summer time and with Germany being 2 hours ahead, I’ve been cracking up at a reasonable hour. So I spent this morning trying to calm down. Ok, so I’ve lost my bag and I’ve lost my gadgets and my Euros have dwindled by 3/4s. I’m fine… I’M FINE!
With the factor of Google maps really playing up I felt it only right to actually get to grips with the streets around my hotel. I decide to have a mini panic, shower, dress and then head off for a wander. I followed the route I took the day before but with a little more curiosity and freedom to explore different side streets. Why didn’t I do this on day one?! I wandered down some fun little back streets where I discovered some good little coffee shops, bars, and restaurants to tantalise the taste buds.
I walked along the river Spree where I felt so at ease. There was a cool winter chill in the air and I could smell that smell you smell around this time of the year this lets you know winter is in place. I began to finally relax and enjoy my time in Berlin and all the troubles so far just melted away. As my friend Fliss later told me, it was a false start.
Later that afternoon, I met my friend DD at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof where we wandered back to the hotel to drop off his things and just chill. He recently began traveling around Europe and had just come from Pisa. I invited him to join me in Berlin so that not only could he experience the culture but also so that I had someone there to keep me company and calm. He did however constantly complain about the cold weather given that Italy was still experiencing a British summer. First world problems, eh?
So that evening we decided to visit the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum) where I was given a fascinating insight that school NEVER taught me. Did you know that Russia played a big part in the history? Not just with the Berlin Wall, but almost with everything in Germany. Germany also had a very interesting relationship regards the national press and the development of different publication cycles across the state. It’s actually quite hard to put into words what I experienced in this museum. I would say it was a quiet enlightenment. There was great detail that had gone missing from my schooling and this had opened my eyes to German society around both world wars. I felt this was a good start to my culture submersion. Here I gained a basis for what Germany was and where it began. At one point I was even shouted at for my overzealous curiosity when trying to take a photo of a statue of Lenin, Mickey Mouse and Jesus holding hands. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?! To this day I still don’t know because Google is a confusing place.
This little excursion was followed by a trip to a cheap eatery where DD and I discussed the life of the German people regards the Soviet era, food and his Italian adventure, including art, food and the people he came across. We wandered, cold and numb, back to the hotel in the pouring rain, reaching gleefully to a roasty-toasty room and a fresh cup of tea, VERY British, before settling in for a good snooze.
28/11/17: Museum Island Hopping and the best burger in Europe
That morning, while I showered, DD checked out the details regards the Berlin Welcome card. It was here that we planned to do Museum Island. At first, I thought this was some crazy, fun island filled with museums! I almost had a nerdgasm. Turns out it was just the name given to their 5 best museums. Shame. But still, all good fun! So after we were ready, we headed out, picked up a card for DD and went on our adventure to the museums.
First stop, the Bode Museum, a gorgeous building filled floor to ceiling with artefacts and artworks. The exquisite pieces inside included your classic Italian renaissance treasures of heavily religious artwork and displays in fine detail, aside rooms of African craftsmanship depicting tribal culture and beliefs. There were columns and sculptures at every turn, fragments of walls, tablets, and vessels. With each new discovery, my curiosity did peak. However, this was not nearly my favourite place of them all.
Next, we curved around the corner, at first being greeted by con artists seeking loose change, to the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) where we took in an array of pieces featuring Neoclassical, Impressionist, and early Modernist artwork, among others. It was here I actually set off an alarm for stepping too close to a painting (facepalm). And while the paintings were indeed a beautiful collection, there wasn’t really much capturing my attention. In fact, the only painting that really made me chuckle was of a woman who had a face that said “for goodness sakes Karen, would you PLEASE stop talking about your cats” (see below). We didn’t stay for long and before I knew it we decided to find somewhere simple for a snack as we both began to get a little hangry; DD from exhaustion, myself from his presence altogether. But seriously, he’s good company. I’m just a bitch when hangry.
After a slice of pizza and a drink, we wandered back across the Spree, past the Alte Nationalgalerie and into the Neus Museum (New Museum), which was definitely my favourite museum of the lot. I was super excited to see the Chinese-Egyptian exhibition which compared the two cultures whom never crossed paths but who lived such similar lifestyles. The styles of craftsmanship and wares were almost identical with differences mainly occurring in style (such as the Chinese culture choosing light blues and reds, while the Egyptians chose dark oranges and blacks) and font (Chinese and Hieroglyphs). It was here we saw the difference between burials of the upper classes. While the Egyptians would mummify their rulers, the Chinese would dress them in armour made of precious materials, such as slices of jade held together with threads of silver. It was magnificent.
Wandering around more, we even came across some curious little pieces including the Berliner Golden Hat, a hat which stood at 74.5cm tall and weighed 490grams. Definitely a fashion first, and would look great at the Christmas party. Just saying.
I will admit however, I do not recall much more from this site as, given it was my favourite historical subject in school, my head and my heart were transfixed on the Egyptian pieces and all their beauty.
After this fantastic detour, we wandered across to the Pergamonmuseum (Pergamon Museum) where a friend of mine showed me a postcard of one of the exhibitions inside which looked stunning in photo, but in person it was breathtaking. The Ishtar Gate, the 8th gate to the city of Babylon, a beautiful blue and gold bricked wall of unbelievable grandeur, stood before my eyes and I was lost for words. I stared closely at the details and absorbed the magnificence of it all. The attention to detail regards the restoration of such a grand historical monument was impressive to say the least.
And the rest of the artefacts in here were just as beautiful. There were bowls, brickworks and beautifully woven carpets hung around every room. The attention to detail became topic of conversation as we could not fathom that people would spend hours, days, weeks to produce something that was essentially to walk across, live under or eat off, and nothing more, and yet we put them in museums for their beauty. It was hard to fathom because nowadays, machines take over and design, build and detail everything for us. PSA for the few remaining crafts people of the world, please do not give up on your efforts. I TRULY appreciate you.
From here we grew weary and while we had yet to hit the 5th and final museum on the island (still sounds weird), we decided now was a time to find food. Now, do you remember me talking about a burger place I couldn’t find on Sunday, thus settling for Kreuz Burger? Well guess what DD and I found yesterday evening when wandering back to the hotel?! That’s right you beautiful reader you, we found it! So may I introduce, Shiso Burger!
Shiso Burger is a small independent restaurant offering burgers with an Asian twist. Founded in 2013, Shiso Burgers provide fresh, delicious, delicate burgers made in house, fast. Along with this they make their own buns and fries, as well as sourcing ingredients of the highest quality from local vendors. Squeezing ourselves into the packed out establishment, we perused the menu with absolute ravenous intention.
We both opted for the classic cheese burger, but DD upgraded his to Wagyu meat. WTF is Wagyu meat I hear you uncultured lot ask? Well I too was like “who the hell is Wagyu and why she in my burger?” It turns out that Wagyu comes from a special breed of cow which produces tender, juicy meat with intense marbling. Alongside this we shared regular and sweet potato fries and a diet coke each. During our wait, we chatted away about our thoughts on the lost art of craftsmanship, American food culture and the acts committed to procure most of the artefacts found in museums today. In the midst of all this, our burgers and fries had arrived. Told you they were fast!
I had to start with the obvious photos because hey, this is me we’re talking about, before tucking in to what I whole heartedly believe is the best burger I have ever had. The bun itself was soft and airy, the sesame seeds adding just a little crunchy texture. The sweet tomato, sharp pickle and crisp lettuce all complimented one another, their fresh flavour really coming through. But the burger itself, the handmade patty of pure perfection, was the real star of this meal. The soft textured, juicy meat gave my tongue an oralgasm I hadn’t had in years. Oh my goodness, this burger was definitely created out of the seven deadly sins it was that good. I even had to force myself not to eat all in one go. I recall forcing myself to look at DD and make conversation while flitting between the fries (which by the way I don’t usually like sweet potato fries but these were heaven! And the skin on fries were just soooo gooooood!). I savoured this meal like it was my last and it was very difficult not to ask for fries to go. But then DD was paying so I didn’t wanna be cheeky. Dammit.
We then trundled off to the hotel, stopping at a local supermarket to grab some drinks and snack for the evening before settling down to some Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and sleep. And until next week my friends, when I shall actually conclude my adventure, goodnight…
So as some of you may know, I recently went to Berlin! For the geographically challenged among you, that’s in Germany. Germany is steeped in a rich culture and textured history and it was a no-brainer for my first time abroad. So I’m going to give a disclaimer, this is going to be a very rich blog of information, stories, pictures and more. So I hope you’ve settled yourself in and enjoy!
Lead up to Berlin
So after speaking to my good friend Noah, Germany was the case to regard my first holiday in a foreign land. At this point I had never been abroad, I never even had a passport, and he sold the idea to me while living there for a year. Growing up my father always claimed the business comes first and thus we never experienced a holiday after the age of 4. And as I got older the idea of traveling abroad never really appealed. I had yet to experience a vast spectrum of the UK itself, let alone 6 other continents. To help get me into the mood for it I even began to learn German with Duo Lingo and the help of Noah. I must confess however, I gave up after a few weeks because I got bored.
So I prepared all my documents and sent them off to the Passport people, to await confirmation of the next step. I was fully prepared for an interview because with it being a first adult passport and with having changed my name by legal deed poll, I was the general practice of the UK passport office. A few days later, a letter arrived confirming my documents had arrived and that I was to contact them regards an interview appointment. I made the call and a lovely woman explained to me the process and how to get there. The following week I was on a train to Newport, Wales for a late afternoon interview. I spent the day wandering around the shops to keep myself busy before heading out of the center to the office. I walked through the entrance to be greeted by security and machine to inspect my belongings and check if I was carrying any dangerous items – thank goodness they didn’t hold my sharp wit against me. The interview was quick and pleasant and before long the lovely lady informed me she was satisfied that I was who I was and confirmed my passport would be through in a few days time. HUZZAH!
I hadn’t yet chosen Berlin to be honest. It was a cross between Berlin or Munich and after much consideration, and the major price difference, Berlin it had to be. So I looked around online, using the Expedia app on my phone and checked out a local Thomas Cook travel agent. By the way, did you know that a Travel Cook rep doesn’t receive commission? This SHOCKED me! The amounts of money people pay for these holidays through you, keeping your company afloat and you don’t reward your staff with commission? That’s gross. Therefore, I won’t ever shop with you, just saying. And the team in there were so friendly and supportive and tried there hardest to find the best offers for me but I had to confirm that what I found online was indeed much cheaper. I’m beginning to wonder if I should start a GoFundMe page for travel…?
Anyway, on 6th September 2017, I booked my flight and hotel through Expedia’s app 3:09pm and it was confirmed. I, Jimmy, was going to be flying (for the first time) to Berlin (for the first time) later this year. Oh. My. Goodness! Excitement and fear were coursing through my veins and I didn’t exactly know how I was going to deal with it all. I just hoped that in time, it would all sort itself out… I really hoped!
Between that day and the 25th November 2017, the excitement grew and the fears faded away. I booked a seat up front, near the window through the EasyJet website (because the app failed on me consistently) with the mentality that I go hard or go home, conquer that fear of flying and at least try to overcome the fear heights. Everyone was talking about it, friends, family, even the countrymen who came into the store asking me how I was feeling and what I planned to do. The support I had got from loved ones and strangers (including the AMAZING Twitter family I’ve built up) really put me at ease and left me feeling so safe in the knowledge that there were people thinking about me. I cannot thank you all enough. Thank you!
PANIC! This is no time for a disco
The day before BeF informed me that unfortunately her car had sadly passed away at the MOT (RIP Fiat Punto) and I was left finding alternative transport there. I had a friend who in previous weeks had offered to take me but I wasn’t comfortable asking them, last minute if they could take me. So I went on to Great Western Railways website and purchased a single to Bristol Temple Meads and I looked into the shuttle bus service to the airport, total costing me just under £15. At this point, I was a bit frustrated because y’know money (I don’t have a sugar daddy so yeah I worked hard for that). But needs must.
25/11/17: Trains, Planes & Auto-My-Feels
Today is the day I fly out to Berlin! Oh, hell on hell this is it. The fear was coursing through me. Panic took over and I could not see for what was in front of me. I was shaking and crying, petrified to the spot that I was going to experience my biggest fear head on… But this is a lie. I felt nothing. The days before it all I had gone numb. Feelings of happiness, sadness, excitement, fear… Gone. I was no longer scared of the thought of flying. I was no longer excited that I was going on my first flight to my first trip abroad. It kind of left me feeling guilty that I was a little selfish to feel that. But it was the truth.
That morning I was awake at 6:45am, the devils hour, and was at the station in plenty of time for my 8:02am train. As the train trundled along I observed the different passengers aboard. Some were heading to work, some were heading for travels and others were possibly heading for a day out. Three handsome guys caught my attention, all different in style and stature, and all having their own story to tell. The sad people watcher that I am, I actually imagined one was off to some warehouse role that he felt great pride in (I envy anyone who enjoys their job), one was off to work within a digital creative agency and the other to work in a hipsteresq pub restaurant. All the while I was sat there finally feeling a little smug that I was off on holiday. The train drifted into Bristol Temple Meads not long after and I awaited the shuttle bus to take me to my first main destination. A short time passed and I was on and off the bus before I knew it. And there I was, Bristol airport.
This bit is kind of boring so I’mma bullet point:
Got a hot chocolate.
Went to bag check. Didn’t need to. Was pointed in the right direction.
Went through the barrier.
Put my cabin case, backpack, toiletries and (mistakenly) shoes into a tray before walking through the scanner.
Was scanned by the guy with his wand. We chatted about my FitBit watch and his wife having one.
I gathered my junk and went through Duty-Free. By the way, I don’t get the hype?!
I explored the shops. Got some gum. Had Burger King for breakfast. Felt crap after. Lesson learned.
I waited patiently for my plane to show up at the gate. When it did, myself and 2 others started heading towards the gate. He was quite rude and impatient, I was cute and naive.
My details are checked and scanned and I am first in line to board the plane after the flight crew. EXCITING!
I’m first on, buckled in and I look out the window to a “beautiful” view of a fuel tank. Great.
Time for take-off!
The plane reversed in what I thought was a fun little start before heading down the road to take a turn for the take-off strip. We wait patiently for about 20 minutes and before I knew it we were off. The plane was zooming along, picking up speed, building the suspense and then… WE’RE OFF! Up into the air, we flew. I filmed it. I photographed it. I loved it! No ear popping for me but it did build a rush in me that I enjoyed and was a great feeling to announce to myself that I was no longer scared. But after 20 minutes I was bored and I kind of wanted to ask if we could pull over for some fresh air but thankfully, common sense told me to keep quiet. As the cloud blew past I became increasingly anxious to get off the plane and do something because I had opted not to watch a film on my iPad or listen to music to preserve battery life (good thing I did too as you’ll soon read). But the time flew by (lol) and we were in Berlin. The landing was pretty smooth. Smoother than when I take off from the traffic lights. I was then off the plane, on the train and heading for central Berlin.
The train was a curious thing and nothing like a British invention. It was huge. It had two floors and comfortable seating and was an enjoyable journey when viewing the outside world of Berlin. What was meant to be a 43-minute train ride felt more like 15 and before I knew it I was at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Berlin Central Station). I gather my things, climbed off the train and headed for the exit. Thankfully I found the right exit and I followed Google Maps in the direction of my hotel. A couple of minutes walk from the station was actually one of my restaurant choices and then hungry-hungry-hippo that I am decided this would be a good time to eat. So I checked to see where my wallet was. I grabbed the straps to my backpack to take it off before remembering my wallet was in my coat pocket. I then thought no I’ll drop my stuff off first and come back. I started to walk a little further along before I suddenly stopped in a terrified freeze… Where’s my backpack? WHERE’S MY BACKPACK!? Oh my hell I left it on the train!! My SuperDry backpack with my Ipad mini, less than 24 hours old Beats Headphones and travel adaptor, my 7-day old phone battery bank, my electronic toothbrush AND my toiletries. In total, I had just lost £400 on a train in Berlin. What a great f***king start. But I didn’t cry, I didn’t panic and I calmly returned to the station where I reported my issue with the unsympathetic woman on the information desk before glumly heading back to my hotel.
I checked in, broke down to the poor night receptionist who just casually asked “how are you” not really expecting to become my therapist and went to my room to freak out. After chatting with my friend DD I went back to the station to buy some toiletries (thank you Body Shop 40% off) and a brand new iPhone charger and adaptor. Back at the hotel, I searched for a local supermarket to get some snacks to perk me up. This was actually kind of fun and all the while as I picked up treat after treat I was saying to myself “this will be great to eat while I watch Home Alone on my iPad”, which I COMPLETELY forgot was in my lost backpack thank you very much!
Ugh, what an awful start. It didn’t help that when trying to work through my upset and anger, DD was being incredibly unsympathetic and actually went out of his way to prevent me from using my coping methods to effectively move on from the incident. A this point I wasn’t ready to let him know that he really upset me, but I see him today so I’mma let loose.
That evening, I Tweeted, Facebooked, Instagramed, WhatsApped and Scruffed to friends for comfort. I must confess, I lied to a LOT of people and told them I was having a great time because I didn’t want you to be upset for me, including my super supportive Tweeties. SorryNotSorry. I ate my junk food, before settling in for the night, hopeful the following day would be better. So goodnight for now…
26/11/17: Naturkundemuseum, Burger VS Burger & Google Maps Outrage
Today, I awoke quite early considering being two hours ahead of the UK, I was fresh and fully rested. I got showered and looked into the Berlin Card, a discount card for attractions and free public transport and walked back to the train station. I then headed back to the hotel because across the road from my room was the Naturkundemuseum (Natural History Museum). For €5 I was in. As I stepped through the door I was greeted by a huge skeletal structure of a dinosaur, and I kind of nerded out. DINOSAURS ARE COOL! I wandered around, not really reading much but definitely enjoying my time there. The beautiful fossils, the reconstructions of lost animals, the additional exhibit about the loss of the rainforest (very informative), the solar system section, a collection of precious stones and my favourite part, the preservation room! A glass chamber room filled to the ceiling with jars of preserved animals from across the planet. I had a nerdgasm. I totally recommend this place just for the last part. Awesome!
I then decided now would be a good time to get something to eat so I searched for something nearby on Trip Advisor. I found a place called Shiso burger and went and hunt it down. However Google Maps was frustratingly playing up and I did not find it – and yet when I did find it a few days later, I realised I walked past it twice. Deep breaths Jimmy. But I found somewhere else that was amazing. Kreuzburger, a small burger bar with a long list of burgers to please any taste. I opted for a Hawaiian burger which came with bacon and pineapple. I upgraded to a meal, the total costing a delicious price of €8.40! Oh my goodness, the burger was amazing! The burger was fresh and juicy. The bacon was cooked perfectly. The pineapple was sweet, sharp and tender. The fries were ridiculously good. You have to go there if you’re in the area.
Before leaving I discovered there was an Anne Frank exhibit nearby and decided that was my next location of information. So I fired up the ole Google Maps and left in search of culture. Following the maps, I walked along the streets, passing closed shop after closed shop. It struck me as odd that they were closed on a Sunday before realising that the UK is just a terrible place and that all businesses there have no compassion for their employees. But I’m not bitter… Anyway, I wandered along, following the map before coming to a dead end. I was lost. Ish. Completely confused I circled the dot a total of 3 times. There was no A-frame outside to make you aware of museum’s entrance but according to the maps, I was there. Frustrated, I tried to ask for help to find the entrance, but the woman at the HELP DESK was rude and didn’t want anything to do with me. Frustrated and now angry, I stormed off back to my hotel to just sleep it off. Again, tomorrow is a new day and hopefully, the arrival of DD would make it a much more pleasant experience. Goodnight…