Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
While Charlottenburg provided an enjoyable experience for the spring, in stark contrast to the bland and nothing-to-do nature of Friedenau in the winter, East Berlin easily tops both areas on the "better places to live" chart. Prenzlauer Berg, more specifically, probably sits somewhere on that chart in between "really damn cool to live in" and "just plain funky." Maybe the word funky went out of style quite some time ago, but I'm bringing it back. Due to the hip art crowd, European cafes lining each and every street, unescapable music scene, unending number of young people, and plethora of bars, funky probably works pretty well. It's really not just Prenzlauer Berg, although I would like to claim it exclusively for my own ego, but it's a whole combination of the already mentioned plus Friedrichshain and Mitte - hence: The East. Do not be alarmed, 20 years ago did not magically disappear and simply slide out of the history books. The wall did fall. But as significant to world history as the fall of the wall was, what it was not able to accomplish was to dissolve the cultural difference between the East and West. And thank God for that. The East, filled with all of the afformentioned entities, has a cultural presence, a vibe, a feeling that cannot be escaped. You cannot walk down a street in the East without being bombarded with colorful graffiti lining the walls, street musicians jamming out with a saxaphone or trumpet, people lining the sidewalks enjoying an espresso or fresh baked roll, or some form of weekend festival. The East has a personality and character that can only be imitated in the West, rather a character that is avoided in the West due to pretentiousness and pride. It's not that the West is a bad place at all, or that the people are cold, boring, or uninteresting. It's just that unlike the West, the East embraces a distinct personality - it has a personality - that emits from every corner, every hidden away bar, and every artist that practices his or her craft. If you haven't yet caught my drift, the East is a cool place.
The other distinct difference in my current living situation, beside direct location, is, well, my living situation. Due to the strained and confined rules of my university's program, we were required to live for the school period with a host family. Both experiences were rewarding and I enjoyed both, but as a college student, living with a single lady in her mid-50's is not exactly what one would call ideal. Therefore, I moved into a student apartment comprised of myself plus 3 other students. It's undoubtedly a much more desired situation, much more comfortable, and I actually feel like I live in my own space versus living in someone elses home. The makeup of the group is also quiet diverse: a 30-year old Italian girl, a 24-year old Portuguese guy, and a 22-year old French girl. It's a great, laidback, free thinking and fun group that suits my own personal preferences way better that the elderly and relatively conservative outlooks of my previous living situations. (No offense intended with the "elderly" comment to my loving grandparents back home - you're young at heart). With the four of us in the apartment, combined with the nicely balanced male to female ratio and our multinational dynamic, it makes for great conversations, interesting perspectives, and an exciting group to live with for this summer. It's been a great 3 weeks living here so far and I have little doubt in my mind that anything will change for the remainder of the summer. And, if anything does, I'm still living in the East.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Alright - so before I jump into our last full day in Porto and also in Portugal, let me build this up a little bit. First of all, whenever I think back on Portugal, this day is the first image that comes into my mind. Actually, I've probably thought about Wednesday in Porto every single day since the trip. If you've ever had the quintessential day at some point in your life where you think, "man - if every day could be just like this," then this was that day for me. So we woke up Wednesday morning, hopped on a city bus (which was a much better bus system than Lisbon) and took a 30 minute ride to Foz, a coastal suburb of Porto. We had no specific plans for the day, were dying to be on the beach since Algarve fell through, and with the weather we had there was absolutely no way were were going home without spending a day by the water. We started off by wondering up and down the coast for a while, hiking out on rocks the jut out into the ocean, and soaking up some sun. Thiago brought a mini soccer ball with us, so we also spent about an hour making freestyle videos which was hilarious. If you look at the pictures in the photo album of the columns along the beach, there's another sidewalk about 15 feet below the columns. After many failed attempts, we made a pretty sweet video of us juggling back and forth between sidewalks, Thiago down below and me up above. While I'd love to say we got it on the first take, it was actually hilarious how many times we messed up, or I would hit somebody walking by down below because I wouldn't see them from up above and would pass the ball down anyway. But eventually, we found success. Remember kids - never give up and you too can conquer the world. After deciding that the freestyle session was over, we sat down at an oceanside cafe for a mid-day lunch. We had an delicious plate of duck risotto for only 3.50 each, again illustrating how cheap Portugal was. Once we finished lunch, we strolled a bit further down the coast where we stumbled upon a beach cafe, which is where my slice-of-heaven day hit its peak. We had 4 hours still before we had to catch our train back to Lisbon, so we figured why not sit around some more and enjoy the view. Just after we sat down, we met a Polish girl who was studying in Porto through the Erasmus program, which is definitely the greatest exchanged program ever if you're a European Union citizen. Once accepted, you can pretty much just say I want to go study here or there for this or that amount of time and then you go. It's incredible really, and the states should seriously look into adopting a similiarly structure program. So we sat around talking to her for a couple hours as we layed around in beach loungers while sipping Caipirinhas and listening to a smooth set of global grooves. Caipirinhas by the way are "the" drink. Delicious, sweet, and perfect for a warm sunny day - and this was unquestionably the perfect day. There's nothing better than having nothing to do, finding a delicious drink, meeting a beautiful girl, relaxing to some smooth grooves, lying around in beach chair, and listening to the ocean all while soaking up the view on the Portuguese coast. It was literally one of the best days from beginning to end that I have ever had in my life, and if only this one random Wednesday in Porto could be on repeat, I'd probably drop everything and go right back. But, life is good here too, so for now it will have to remain a sweet memory in my mind.
So that wrapped up our week in Portugal. It was incredible getting to spend so much time in such a beautiful country all while travelling with my best friend. Lisbon is now my favorite city in Europe that I have been too - it has the perfect combination of a laid-back atmosphere, nice people, beautiful views, yet plenty to do. And likewise, Porto was also a beautiful city where as you know by now I had the best day of our trip. It's too bad that this is all just a memory now, but there's no question that the time I spent in Portugal will stay with me for the rest of my life. So, until later, take care, sit back, enjoy life, soak up a view, live at a slower pace - you'll appreciate it in the long run.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
After catching a quick one-hour flight from Madrid on Friday afternoon, we arrived to the beautifully sunny Lisbon airport from which we took a bus transfer to our hostel. Immediately upon exiting the airport, the first thing we noticed was that all the taxis were Mercedes. Nice. Not a bad way to say hello to your guests. While we took the bus to the center of the city upon arrival, we would only later realize that on our return trip to the airport at the end of the week that a 20 minute taxi ride costs only $7.50. Shocking, but true. One thing that I looked up when I got back to Berlin is that Portugal is the cheapest country in western Europe, something that I'm sure you'll realize as I go about this blog. So, we arrived a little after 5 at our hostel, completely exhausted from going out the previous night in Madrid, and took a much needed nap. Of all the hostels I've stayed at throughout Europe, this was by far the best. We paid only 15 euros a night (per person), had our beds made for us every day and our room cleaned, breakfast laid out for us every morning, free internet, and the friendliest staff yet. Plus, we were only a block from the river and just a 5 minute walk from the train station and center of the city. So, after finally waking up Friday night, we went to the grocery store where we bought the most inexpensive dinner I have ever purchased at any grocery store (and I do all my grocery shopping for myself in Berlin, so I've gotten to know prices fairly well). To give you an idea, the water in Portugal is not the best to drink, so we purchased 1.5 liter bottled water for only 12 cents a bottle! Thiago and I are still trying to figure out how they make any money off of this. We took the food back and cooked dinner in our hostel's kitchen as we did every night, and had a great pasta and pork steak meal. After finishing dinner, we went out to explore the Lisbon nightlife which is unlike any other nightlife I have seen before. For the first night, which was Friday, we decided to explore the bar scene and were told we should head to the Baixa district. After hiking up the hills of the city, we finally arrived to see thousands upon thousands of people roaming the streets. Having no idea what the social scene was here, we decided to follow the people to figure out where everyone was going, only to realize that the streets ARE the location. In the Baixa district, there are hundreds of tiny little bars that serve sangria and beer for only a euro a glass, and everyone buys their drink and then brings it back out onto the street. The cool part about it too is first off all it's not age exclusive; there were just as many 16 year olds as 25 year olds as 50 year olds all participating in the nightlife. It's also not a loud and crazy atmosphere, just a chill spot to kick back and have a few drinks with your friends. I've literally never seen anything like it where thousands of people just show up to an area of about 5 square blocks to hang out outside every night. It's really quite a cool thing to see and be a part of. The funniest thing by far this night, and an ongoing joke between Thiago and I for the entire trip, is we were offered hash and coke at least 50 times just in this one night. These well-dressed guys would walk up to you (also in the pure daylight as happened to me throughout the weekend) and say "hashish, coca?" It was hilarious and by the end of the trip I would be saying "no" out loud before someone even offered just by the way they were walking towards me. I found out that the quickest way to get rid of them is to just start speaking German because they clearly know at this point they can't communicate. So after a few delicious sangrias and hanging out amongst the crowd Friday night we headed back to the hostel to sleep before our first full day in Lisbon.
After waking up Saturday morning at our own pace, we strolled out of the hostel around 11 or so and headed toward the Castelo de São Jorge. After finally reaching the castle, which was just a few blocks from our hostel but all uphill, we walked through the castle gates and probably spent around 2 hours or so inside. For the first hour, Thiago and I found a stone bench carved into the castle wall and sat while we admired the panoramic view of Lisbon looking out both onto the river and into the city streets. It was a great view from the top as the castle sits atop one of the tallest hills in Lisbon, and was also nice to lay around in the sunshine and warmth that I had not seen in Berlin. Once we decided we had sat long enough, we walked about the castel walls until finally leaving a couple hours later. The castle really was not that big, but had such good views of the city from the top that we decided to stay for quite some time. After leaving the first castle of the trip, we took the public bus, which was a pure nightmare of a public transportation system, to the other side of Lisbon where we went through a monastery and small tower along the river. These were both fairly quick sites to see, and luckily we got in free to both thanks to being students. Upon finishing up our sightseeing for the day, we made our way back to the hostel where we again took a nap before this time heading to a club. The club scene in Lisbon is also unique, but in a different way than the bars. For being such a laid-back city, many of the clubs are ridiculously exclusive. For instance, there were clubs upon clubs that you could not enter unless you were willing to consume minimum 100 euros of drinks. And for the college kid, while a bottle of Don Perignon certainly signals baller status, it just wasn't in the cards. We did find a cool club though right on the water (it was also ladies night so that was a big plus) where we ended up dancing for most of the night which wrapped up our first full day in Lisbon.
On Sunday, Thiago and I headed to Cascais, a small beach town that was just a 45 minute train ride outside of the city. We basically walked up a down the coast for the day, hiked the rugged cliffs that lined the ocean, and enjoyed yet another day in the sun. We were a bit unfortunate not to rent bikes (well, we rented one). The city tourism office rents out bikes for free to visitors, and they have 3 stands set up throughout the city. We got to the first stand and they only had one bike, so we took it anyway and walked to the other 2 stands to pick up another, but both were completely rented out. Slightly unfortunate, but made for some hilarious attempts at double-biking. After walking up and down the coast for the day, we grabbed a couple beers and sat around for an hour or so on the beach just hanging out. I guess there wasn't much more to Cascais - maybe worth mentioning is the Boca de Inferno which is a huge archway in the cliffs where waves fly in and explode on the rocks. Other than that, just an quaint picturesque beach town which is nice to do for a day of relaxing.
Monday- Sintra. The original inspiration for going to Lisbon, we took another 45 minute train ride outside the city to the mountainous region. This time it was Thiago and I, plus another Stanford student Oliver who was in town for a couple days, and a Brazilian girl we met on the train who hung out with us for the day. After winding our way up the mountain for an hour, we finally reached the top and headed first to the Castelo dos Mouros (the Moorish Castle). Walking through the castle, hiking up the stone walls and through the archways, it literally felt like you were walking through a Disney set. From the top, we had incredible views of the country side surrounding the castle in addition to the ocean just a short distance away. We hiked through the castle for a couple hours, climbing every pathway and tower, until we'd finally run out of things to see. Following the Moorish castle, we hiked across a ridge to the Palacio de Pena, again which appeared to be straight out of Disney. Like the former, the castle had equally beautiful views from the top, and we sat around like we did the whole trip just admiring the scenery. Adjacent and surrounding the palace is a huge park that has hundreds of endagered plants and trees and is beautifully landscaped. We wandered through this park for a while, and probably the funniest thing of the day was feeding both a white and black swan. Thiago had an apple so we decided to break off pieces and see if we could get the swan to take them from our hands. I was the first to do so, and I think Thiago got it on video, which is probably pretty hilarious cut the swan bit the sh*% out of my fingers and I'm pretty sure I reacted with a few pretty loud explicitives. I definitely did not realize it until after the fact, but swans have these go-go-gadget like necks that extend extremely far, and the damn swan definitely overjudged where the apple was in relation to my fingers. Made for a funny experience anyway. So, this wrapped up our day in Sintra. The city is absolutely beautiful, and there's a ton more to see that we didn't have time to do. I think we all wish we would have had more time there, but Thiago and I had to get back to Lisbon to catch a 3-hour train to Porto.
Finally I got to Madrid and met Thiago at my hostel for the night. I wasn't able to stay with him at his homestay - in Spanish culture it is apparently not common to invite guests into the home until you have known them for a least a full year. Instead, they meet at public places such as parks, bars, and restaurants. The Stanford in Madrid program is very different from our Berlin program in many ways, one of which is that the students in Madrid eat lunch and dinner with their host families every day. So, upon meeting Thiago, he immediately had to leave for lunch which was completely fine with me as I wanted to go do sightseeing stuff that he had undoubtedly already done. Walking around the city was extremely nice, for the most part because it was 72 degrees and I saw the sun the entire day! This just does not seem to happen back in Berlin. I walked throughout Sol, an area of the city near my hostel, through plazas and down streets that had what I thought was some pretty cool architecture. During the day, I saw Plaza Mayor, Plaza Espana, and the Palacio Real. The Palacio Real was incredible, wish I could have gone inside, and had a nice garden/park area at the base of the palace in which hundreds of people were lounging and soaking up a few rays. After spending a couple hours roaming the city, I met up with Thiago in Retiro Park, the only thing I told him I had to see while I was in Madrid. The park is incredible and extremely massive, likely comparable to Central or Golden Gate Park. While I have been to the latter of those two but not Central Park, Retiro Park is definitely my favorite park I have seen. There were thousands upon thousands of people in the park, an enormous lake, plenty of green space, and paths lined with flowers, street vendors and artists. We spent probably an entire 3 hours in the park, just laying around, messing around with a mini soccer ball, and also running into at least 7 or 8 other people from the Madrid program. The nice thing about Spanish culture is that it is so laid back: the people walk slower, eat at 2 and 10, use the parks on their lunch breaks, and are generally not concerned so much with time. It was perfect just to lay around in the sun for the day as the sun is the thing I have missed the most while being in Berlin (after my family of course!).
After spending some time hanging out with Thiago, he eventually had to go back to have dinner with his host family, so I went and hung out at my hostel for a few hours before going out that night. One thing I noticed in Madrid during the day, or maybe I should say one thing that was impossible not to notice, was that Madrid has the most beautiful women you have ever seen in your life. And I'm honestly not exaggerating. At least 1 of every 2 women you see is not just good looking but is absolutely gorgeous. If you follow soccer, I can now see why Cristiano Ronaldo said he would consider a move to Real Madrid just for the women. Anyway, I don't know how this many attractive people ended up all in one place, but I can understand why Thiago enjoys Madrid so much. After Thiago had finished his dinner with his host family, I met up with him and 3 other girls from the Madrid program that night to go out dancing. As I've noted before, it's been an interesting scene throughout Europe going to a club to dance, usually more so on the negative side of things than the positive. On the whole, I've enjoyed bars much more than clubs, but Madrid definitely made me question this. As I told Thiago, if every night at a dance club were like the night in Madrid, I would be at the club every night. We had a phenomenal time dancing all night with the girls, the club had a great setup and played great music, and overall it was by far my best club experience. The key really to having a good time is to make sure you go with a group of girls, because contrary to the US, you do not meet nor dance with girls you just met in the European clubs. It's just a different scene. So, after getting home from the club and getting 2 hours of sleep before I had to check out of my hostel, Thiago and I headed off on Friday to Portugal for our spring break week. Madrid was an incredible city, and I truly wish I could have spent more time there, but for only having 24 hours, I'd say I definitely made the most of it. Just means that someday I should go back, which is never a bad thing.
As always, photos have been updated.
The red light district: actually not nearly as cool or big as it is hyped up to be. Basically, if you don't already now, the district gets its name because prostitution is legal in Amsterdam. The prostitutes rent out small little rooms along the street with windows that are illuminated with red lights from which comes the name. I must admit, it is pretty funny to walk through the district and see a man walk out of the room as the prostitute opens the curtains again. Other than sex, you can also legally buy marijuana all throughout Amsterdam, although again most places are located in the red light. However, the district is not nearly as big nor as crazy as I had pictured in my head before arriving. Another tour guide fact, the red light district won't be there by 2015, but at the rate the current government in power is shutting down coffee shops and red light shops, it will be nonexistent by 2012. Over the past 5 years, the number of coffee shops and red light shops being shot down has doubled each year, starting with 4 the first year and rapidly working its way up. So, if you want to go get there while you can, because it probably won't exist in 5 years time. Although as seems to be the case with everything in Amsterdam, it will just go underground but won't actually go away.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
For whatever city I did go to, I arrived late on Friday night and took an hour bus charter into the city center where Hayley lives. For those of you who don't know, Hayley is one of my best friends from high school, is studying abroad in London through a Mizzou program, and has a flat in the city with 5 other girls. I got to call the living room couch my home for the weekend, which had a big plus and a big minus. The Plus: I am a cheap college student and did not have to pay for a hostel / had a place to stay for the weekend. The Minus: the London Tube (train) is incredibly noisely and just happens to be located 5 floors below and directly adjacent to their flat. No reason to bring an alarm - this makes for a wonderfully pleasant 6am "good-morning to you sir." Anyway, Friday night Hayley and I and some of her friends just sat around her flat, hung out, and eventually crashed for the full day on Saturday.
Saturday morning: I met all 5 of her roommates before 9am. Seriously, how the hell do you meet 5 (6 including Hayley) college students on a Saturday morning before the hour of 9am? One huge difference about London is the city is on a completely different time schedule than Berlin. For nightlife, pubs close at 11, 12 if you're lucky, and clubs usually close at 2 or 3. This means that you actually get in much earlier and do not wake up in the middle of the day. Kinda nice, although weird when at 9pm people are freaking out because you haven't yet found a bar to start your night. In Berlin, I would be getting into the shower at 9. Anyway...we woke up early Saturday morning and headed out into the city for a day of sightseeing. I literally came to London with no idea about anything in the city - what I wanted to do, history, tourist spots, etc. - so I just told Hayley to show me what she thought I should see. It worked out great because I saw a ton and everything is located relatively close together so you can pack in a full day. First of all (if you didn't catch on already), the weather was 62 and sunny all day - by far the most beautiful day yet in Europe and reminded me exactly of what the weather is like back on our California campus many days in the winter. To start the day, we headed to Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and then made our way back toward the Thames and walked along the river to the Tower Bridge. Luckily Hayley was still alive at this point after almost being impaled by a guard's golden sword at some random place we encountered earlier in the day. We were walking under an achway (no idea where we were) and upon exiting the other side there were two guards on horses on either side of the arch. Naturally, Hayley and I both turn around to look at them, when suddenly we hear a man yell, "STEP ASIDE FOR THE GUARD" in the deepest voice known to man. I turn around to see Hayley narrowly escape death by a few feet because this guard was not about to halt for anyone. After making it to the tower Bridge, where we passed by a sweet looking castle by the river, we hopped onto the Tube and made our way to Hyde Park. We grabbed a sandwich for lunch along the way and ate as we strolled through the park. Hyde Park is massive by the way - probably similar to the size of a Golden Gate or Central Park. After walking through the park for about half an hour, we stumbled upon a sizable lake packed with people in paddle boats. How could you not rent a paddle boat on a day like this - it should be a crime to pass this up. As you can imagine, we rented a boat and cruised about the river for a while as we mastered our crew skills. Being modest, I dominated Hayley in the rowing competition. The lake was great, but it actually is fairly difficult to navigate a little boat via a couple wooden oars that keep popping out of their harnesses. Upon leaving the lake, we walked to Harrod's - the world's biggest and most ridiculously expensive department store. (Random info: Berlin has the 2nd biggest with KaDeWe). We had the best chocolate sunday I've ever had - although I'll still take Rome's gelato over Harrod's ice cream any day. After an ice cream break, we made our way back to the Thames river, walked along and looked at Parliament and the London Eye, and eventually made our way to dinner...at 5 o'clock. The area below the London Eye was great - packed with street performers and vendors which reminded my a lot of the area along Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. We packed in almost more than possible Saturday, and as is fitting with London's early time schedule compared to Berlin, sat down to eat at 5.
We had dinner with a couple of her friends at an Irish pub where we also watched the Man United game. I played the role of your stereotypical tourist and had fish-and-chips (f.y.i. - chips=fries, crisps=chips, and biscuts=cookies). After dinner, we made our way back to her area and went out with some more of her friends to a couple pubs before finding a bar/lounge type place in East London. Hilarious moment (one seems to happen on every trip): we are leaving the lounge at the end of our night and for some reason everyone wants to go get hotdogs. Really? I get it that we are all drunk at this point and people want food, but seriously, a hot dog? Anyhow, we pay 18 pounds for a taxi to take us to Picadilly Circus where the owner of the hot dog stand knows half of our group by name and gives them discounts for being regular customers. Unfortunately, I do have to admit this was the best hot dog I have ever had - so thank you to our drunken hosts who dragged my reluctant self to a hot dog stand in the middle of the night. (And sorry if these moments aren't actually funny - I am sure that they're probably much funnier in my own memory).
Sunday morning we were out of the house by 10 to go to a market that we thought would be open. Theme of the trip: it was not open. This is not necessarily the theme though because of this particular market. This was the theme because the London Tube sucks! Apparently the train works great during the week because the city of London does not shut down lines during this time so that it does not interrupt the working day. However, on the weekends they shut down probably about 20% of the lines to do repairs, construction, whatever, and most of these lines happen to go to the tourist spots. Not exaggerating, we probably had to take round-about ways 1/2 the time we travelled in the city because a certain line we needed was closed. It was comical for the weekend, but it would drive me insane if I lived there. So after getting to the awesome food market that was not actually open, we made our way to Abbey Road and saw the Beatles recording studio and where the famous album cover was shot. Not much to see, but cool to be in the spot of one of my favorite groups of all times. The first music purchase I ever made was 2 Beatles cassettes, "The Magical Mystery Tour" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely," so it was personally cool for me to walk across a seemingly random intersection just for those purposes. To finish up the weekend, we went to a pub as one should to watch the Fulham football match before I caught my bus back to the airport. Great and fitting way to end the weekend - the pubs were one of the things I loved most about London. There is literally a pub on every corner and everyone has their local pub they go to regularly. After the game, I unfortunately had to say goodbye to London as I truly did not want to leave.
After having now visited three cities outside of Berlin, London is the only place I can actually say that I wish Berlin were more like. Most of this stems from the program that Hayley and the other Mizzou students are in - so I'm actually saying I wish our program was more like theirs. First of all, they all live together and in the center of the city. More so, all the other Mizzou students live in surrounding flats within only a few blocks. In Berlin, everyone is very spread out for living quarters. Personally, I am in a very residential area, which unfortunately I grow to dislike more and more every day. Luckily though, I am moving in the spring quarter to a very commercial area that I am sure I will enjoy the new location much more than my current spot. Also, because it will be commercial, it will be extremely nice (like London) to have pubs, restaurants, cafes, and stores on every street. Another thing I really like about their program in London is that they have class in an actual London university. This makes it exponentially easier to make friends and get connected into the local scene. Not to mention here in Berlin our university is way out in the suburbs, which has very polarized pros and cons. After leaving London, I now have a much more keen perspective on what is good and what is not good about our program here in Berlin. In most ways unfortunately, I'm starting to wish it were different. However, don't confuse this with the idea that I do not like the program I am in here. I love most of it. I'm just more aware now that there are many ways in which I would change it to make it better and more receptive to college aged kids.
All in all, I'm extremely glad I went to London. London is a city that I would have never visited had Hayley not been there, so thank god she was because it is now my favorite city I have travelled to. It is not necessarily the best time in a city (Rome is almost untouchable in that category) but definitely my favorite city. There is nothing in Rome or Istanbul that I would wish to bring back to Berlin (except Roman gelatto, which Berlin has, just not as tasty), but there are aspects of London that I would love to see here in my northern European home. I would also go back to London in a heartbeat if I knew that it was going to be 62 and sunny again, but being realistic that is rather unlikely to happen. Anyway, thanks to Hayley for a great time in a great city. I'll definitely be back.
"The Photo Collection" album from January has been updated.