Tag Archives: Europe

Berlin: ” It’s for me”

Berlin is a liberating city. There is a vibe of being young, free and creative. Here and there, half torn-down buildings and ill-lit alleys look kind of rough, but in a nice way. Yeah, that does not sound right, but it feels right.

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I am not saying that I really know the city. I was there only for an extended weekend. I didn’t even visit main attractions, or the outer west and north side of the city. I am sure there are places in Berlin that you should not wander about when you are alone at night. It is just like any other big cities. However, much a novice as I am, I found it hard to not love Berlin.

People are so very friendly and open

I’ve met and talked to so many strangers in Berlin. German and foreigners. The young and the old. The straight and the lesbians. The city dwellers and the town visitors. One thing in common: most are so open to having a conversation. I wonder if it’s the water (and the beer) there that brings out the friendliness. Mentioning the beer…

Beer is tasty and cheap

We tried a lot of beer in Berlin. From crafted bottles in a festival to the typical German one mentioned in The Life of Others. Somehow out of the so many types we’ve tried, none is bad and most are excellent. May the odds be always in our favour!

Prices are lower than of the similar ones you get in Amsterdam, which is a good start (with a potentially bad ending).

Graffiti, graffiti and graffiti

Along bridges over some underground stations. 20 metres off the ground by the window of a fifth-floor apartment. On the street. And most famously: East Side Gallery. It is the longest part of the Berlin wall that is still standing and reminding us of all the extreme. After the fall of the Wall, that standing stretch was painted by various artists for ten years, if I remember it right. You can find all styles of graffiti there. Some are abstract. Others are scarily real. Sadly, there is also work of vandalism. I never understand the ignorance and the vanity of ones who scribble their names on other people’s work.

A boy at East Side Gallery

All in all, I found the abundance of graffiti in every corner of Berlin thought-provoking. I don’t love all of them. But I can almost feel the freedom of the street artists. It must be really liberating.


What I’ve found in Brugge

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Brugge is a tourist town. Period.

That of course means a lot of tourists everywhere, at all times. In the two days in Brugge, I’ve counted a great deal of teenage boys and girls on school trips. I waved to many other fellow Asian travellers. I also saw two groups of the Russian-looking elderly at a break of dawn. And European families with selfie sticks!

In the touristic Brugge, most street fronts are dedicated to more or less four kinds of store.

The first group includes restaurants, bakeries, and food stores. Basically where you can find things to eat. And food in Brugges was amazing from my humble experience. In the 10 minute-walking radius with our airbnb at the centre, there are three Michelin star restaurants. Not that I tried any but it must count for something, right. Within the same distance, I found an amazing bakery, a high end organic food store stuffed with cheese, and a vibrant outdoor market. I swear I have found the best French ham and pâté there.

The second group includes bars and pubs. It’s where beer lovers like us hang out at night, or during the day even. The one night we spent in Brugge, my boyfriend and I found this place with a 15-cm thick beer menu. I could have drunk beer with all sorts of ingredients and in all sorts of glasses. Like, speculoos beer and a horn-shape glass, for example. It’s not at the same time though, they are classy beer drinkers in Belgium 😉

15-cm thick beer menu

The third one is beer shops, also for the like of us. Hundreds and thousands of bottles. Some cost up to 20 euros per bottle. There, you can find the best of those famous Trappist beer brewed by monks. I love Trappist’s dark and deep taste, like down in the abbey I guess 😀

Last but not least, it’s all round favourite: chocolate. There are chocolate shops on the main streets door by door. On a hidden corner, down by the canal, behind the church — you name it and you will most likely find a chocolate shop. My boyfriend bought a little ducky for my 18-month old nephew. He is not two yet, and he already expresses quite a love for chocolate.

So here you go. If you like to drink beer, eat good food and nibble on chocolate, you should definitely visit Brugge. If you are into architecture, do go as well. Don’t leave without checking the Church of Our Lady, please. It is so beautiful.

I don’t know if I would go back to Brugge. Not that I don’t like the city. I love it. But all the surface has been polished up for the tourists. I found it so hard to see underneath and find the connection. Maybe if I have stayed longer…

Holiday in England

My holiday in England started with fish and chips bought from a local shop of Lancashire. I was longed for the taste of gravy since I left England last November. Fish and chips is not a sophisticated gastronomy art. It is more like comfort food for winter. God knows that it’s wintry weather almost all year round on this island.

Holiday treat continued with free chocolate handed out in Manchester’s Arndale Mall. Christmas is coming real soon. Either that the whole year away from England made me forget that there was always a queue; or that I was so excited about free Maltersers that I cut through the queue without noticing it.

Manchester was rainy as always. But the city was nicely lit up and cramped with Christmas stalls. All pretty things you can think of are in display. Whether you are ticking off your Christmas shopping list or you are a fan of warm drinks and sweetness, you will find what you want there. I indulged myself with some hot roast pork in apple sauce. I felt good.

It is a strange sensation to be back in England. In a random mobile phone shop in Manchester, I talked with a guy who lived two streets down from my street in Fenham of Newcastle. He was nice. The total stranger who reminded me that it was home once.

Xmas in Manchester