A Travellerspoint blog

Germany

I didn't know we were in Venezuala...?!

overcast 15 °C

Wow, neglecting the blog a little! We’ve been super busy, so I’ve got a lot to catch up on! Better grab a beer for this one, it may be a while!

After our ‘day off’ in Florence, we went out for dinner at our usual spot, and of course the boys were there again. It was a Friday night, so us girls decided we’d go out for drinks at the disco down the street, and we invited the boys along. We had such a good time watching this guy dance like my parents friend Andy it was SO funny. Andy (from Parksville) does the funniest ‘sexy dance’ and this Italian guy (Antonio) did the same one it was sooo good! From then on we called him Andy, but I don’t think he really got why lol.

The day after the disco we had booked a wine tour. Kristel was hung over, like, she got up and had a shower, and layed back down. Brushed her teeth, and layed back down. Too funny. After we got some McDonald’s in her she was ready to go, and we hit the market and hung out in Florence for a bit before our wine tour at 2. The ladies had booked it, and we got in line to get ready and they put numbered stickers on us like one of those old couple tours they’ve booked through their expensive hotels, where the tour guide talks in a microphone and everyone gets their own earpiece I’m like sweeet, but luckily we only had the stickers and not the rest of it! We get onto the coach and our lady starts a little Florence history and tells us what our tour’s going to look like. She starts out by saying, “On our field trip today…” and mom and I look at each other like, oh ya, and she keeps referring to our wine tour as a field trip it was sooo funny, but I guess you had to be there. Our tour guide lady didn’t speak English all that well, and Kristel, mom and I are trying so hard not to laugh. This woman added a’s on the end of every word she said, and added random a’s in the middle of her sentences. You don’t even know how funny it was to listen to her. Actually, the joke hasn’t even really died down; we’ve been adding a’s into our speech as well. She’d be telling us the history of the vineyard, and she’d say, “The winah is ah grownah in the fieldah where ah, the soil is ah, very ah fertile, ah.” She was too funny. Another thing she did was describe words with the same word. We felt like we were in kindergarten half the time like, “The treesah, are ah very big, ah? Becausah they are tall, ah?” SO FUNNY. Had to be there. So now all of us talk like that half the time, like, “Shouldah we go and getah the dinner now, ah?” Funny.

Anyways, we stopped at a little town on the way to the winery, to, “lookah at the beautifulah countryside of Florence, ah?” but it really just looked like home. There were tons of olive trees around, so I figured I’d try one right off the tree and see how different they are. OH MY GOD don’t ever do that! The thing exploded in my mouth with the most disgusting, poisonous liquid ever. I was gagging, and I LOVE olives. It was SICK. Not cool, had to get some crackers to calm the taste down it was so gross!
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Once we got to the winery we got a great tour a the place by one of the owners. He was really funny too, but he wore a stupid headset that wasn’t even very loud; we would have heard him way better if he just talked to us properly! After getting a tour we sat down to our first glass of wine and some breads with olive oil, grown and pressed right on site. The oil was delicious; like no other oil I’ve ever tried. The wine was amazing as well; we had one white and two Chianti reds, both awesome. This cute 82 year-old man helped pour the wine. He has been the gatekeeper at the castle since 1952, wearing the same outfit and everything! He had a really good contract so he stayed on for so long, and now he’s retired but he still comes out to pour the wine for the tourists and take pictures with them it’s so cute!
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After we left our tour bus, (“Thank you ah so muchah for ah tasting the winah with us and we wish ah you a pleasant stayah in Florence. Ah!”) we headed back to our hostel, hoping to have a siesta before meeting Al Pacino and Tony and gang for dinner. We had given our hostel lady our laundry to do for us this morning, paid her and everything, and we were hoping it would be all folded on our beds when we got home. When it was nowhere to be found, we got a little worried, and the lady led us up onto the roof where it was half dry outside, and we had to leave at 7 am in the morning. We needed to be packed before we went to bed, and there was no way it was going to be dry, especially seeing as how it started raining 10 minutes after we took it all down! We had less than an hour until we were supposed to meet for dinner, so we ran it to the laundrymat down the street and dried it. After running back through the rain, we quickly got ready for dinner. We looked good already from our wine tour, we just needed to fix our hair quickly from the running in the rain. Well, mom proceeds to have a conniption fit in the room, while Kristel and I quietly sit on our beds waiting for it to pass. We’ve since learned that the crazy mood swings are because mom’s going through the change (she’s constantly complaining about her inner heater going on, ya, there’s clue number one!) She’s pretty much yelling at us saying that she’s not hungry and that we’re dragging her to dinner and we should just leave her behind, but I’ve learned it’s not fun to leave a man (or lady) behind, so I dragged her out. As soon as we met up with the boys, Tony comes up to me, stating, “Your mother is uh, sad?” I’m like ya, grumpy as hell. I didn’t know how to simply say, “she’s going through the change,” so I left it at that! We found a place to have dinner as our regular trattoria wasn’t open, and to the utter surprise of the boys, us girls only ordered once course. It’s funny eating around people who have such different standards than us. Like, when I went to try mom’s soup, Tony and the others cringed! They thought it was so weird! Oh well, we do what we want! After dinner we got some gelato and headed out to a main square to people watch. The boys were funny. At dinner, Tony was the only one who knew English, so he barely touched his dinner as he was too busy translating for everyone at the table. Al Pacino (really Franco) kept talking to us in Italian. Like just chatting away as if we spoke the language. So all of a sudden, mom leans over says to Franco, “One upon a time, when I was a little girl, there were stars in the sky and I was outside prancing around the forest…” and I’m like, mom, what the hell are you talking about?! And she was like, “Well he says anything he wants to us and we don’t understand so I wanted to tell him a story!” Too funny. (At this point the mood swing was over lol) Too funny.

The next morning we got up bright and early to come to Venice. The train ride was good, but we all had to wear our iPod’s as we were sitting right next to the door that opened and closed itself and was really squeaky. No big deal though! Once we got to Venice we were in awe; it is perfect! It is exactly what you picture Venice to be.
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Waterways and canals everywhere, and boats for everything. Water buses, water taxis, water construction boats, water ambulances, everything! So cute. Dad would be out of a job here as there’s no cars, but I could totally see him taking tours out on the canals. Actually, he’d be in heaven here as all the have is boats!! But I’ve loved Venice. We got lots of pictures of bridges lol. We went up the tower in St. Mark’s square for 8 euro, and its just an elevator to the top. They probably make millions in the summer with all the tourists! Nice view though.
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And we did a LOT of shopping here; Murano glass comes from here so there’s jewelry everywhere. And besides going to St. Mark’s square, there’s really not much else to do in Venice but shop (which is totally fine with me!). Today we sent Kristel off on her train (with a few tears!) and mom and I napped on a statue, without even getting in trouble! But we’re probably in a bunch of pictures. I was reading my book about Europe, and it said that Vienna is that coffee capitol of the world. Mom goes, “Ya right, there’s no coffee here,” and I’m like, “Mom, Vienna’s in Austria,” and she’s like, “Oh right, we’re in Venezuala.” I’m like, uh, NO we’re not actually! So funny. She replies with, “Oh my, it’s all the V’s, they screw me up they’re so far down the alphabet!” Too funny. I love my mother.
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It’s our last day in Italy, so we figured we’d get some pasta for lunch, but we weren’t all that hungry so we were thinking we’d share a plate. After sitting down at a good looking place that other tourists had recommended, we tried to order our spaghetti pomodoro, veg soup and salad, and mom said she’d just share. Well, the guy went bizerk and said we couldn’t share a plate. So I quickly ordered two, but after the guy left mom was all mad because she didn’t want to pay for a whole meal when she just wanted a few bites. When the guy brought us an unopened bottle of water, mom said to cancel hers and that just I was hungry and only I would eat. The guy went NUTS, taking all of mom’s place settings away, saying that it is not possible to share and that if she even took one bite he would charge her a 5 euro service charge! We were like, oh ya! Why don’t you tell us how to live our lives while were at it? Like seriously, who tells you you can’t have a bite of someone’s food? We were like, one meal’s better than no meals buddy! We hadn’t opened our water so we up and left, and we were about 10 seconds away when he yells down the road at us, saying, “You, you, come back! I am giving you your meal!” And then a whole bunch more in Italian! I was freaked, and mom was like, “What an asshole!” so we just kept walking. I was walking really fast I was so scared of him! Like what a mean guy! I told mom to walk faster (what if the tourist police comes and gets us?!) and literally every person on the street stopped to stare at us. That guy looked like a fool though, and the guy walking in front of us was laughing at my tourist police comment. Hey, you never know! We still had 4 hours to kill so now we’re sitting at a bar around the corner from where we stayed, getting amazing service, and waiting to grab our packs and head on a 7 hour overnight train to Munich. We intend to drink lots here and then get a bottle of red, so we can just pass out in our seats on the train. Good times!

UPDATE: Well, our train ride was long but we’re now safely sitting in Starbucks at Munich Hauptbahnhof! We passed through SNOW in Austria (SO not in the plan!) but we’re here now. We were about the only ones who had to share a car; everyone else got their own to sprawl out on and mom and I are crunched up in the corner trying to sleep with these two Italian guys. We had a stop in Innsbruck, Austria and the guys got off the train to smoke or whatever, and the never came back to the car for like half an hour! Then the cops came around checking our passports, so now our minds are racing thinking that the packs these guys left in our car were bombs! Crazy, but they finally came back and thought it would be okay to chat for the rest of the trip! 4:30 AM to 6:30 AM, while mom and I were clearly trying to sleep. Like chatting loudly. Idiots! People are so inconsiderate. I can’t wait to be back in Canada and deal with nice people!!

Posted by kvandervegan 22:29 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

A Visit with an Old Friend and Berlin City!

sunny 29 °C

Wow, neglecting this thing once more! And thanks to my mother for pointing it out, the pressure's on to get a new post out! And unfortunately, due to a slow wifi connection, no pics on this one even though I've got some good ones! :(

I spent Friday and Saturday with Max in Erlangen, near Nuremberg, in Bavaria, Germany. We had a blast! He picked me up from the station, we quickly caught up on the last 5 years, and bam! We get along great. And with the mention of wanting to become a veg, we were BFF in a matter of hours. Friday night we rented a movie in English, made a stir fry for dinner, had some wine, and chatted. Max even helped me buy semi-permanent hair colour so I could give my do a little refresher. So Saturday morning when Max went to work, I had the luxury of an empty house (one I haven't had in over 2 months! It's crazy the things you take for granted at home, like privacy!), so I died my hair and hung out all morning until Max got off at one. We then went into Erlangen, got some dinner stuff, returned the movie, and got me an English book (The Pillars of the Earth, so far very good!) We made vegan pizza and a yummy salad, and drank more wine and chatted about the world and all it's problems, it was great! Took it easy again; Max was tired from the night before, and I couldn't be bothered either, so we called it off with his friends and just relaxed again. We even got to puppy-sit for his mom while she was at the neighbour's pre-wedding party; Afrau and Paule were two very loving German Short-hairs, who were freaking adorable. It's funny though, you feel REALLY dumb when even the dog doesn't understand you. I'm trying to tell them to sit or lay down, but they're German too and have no idea what I'm saying! I realized that and had a good laugh lol. The party was next door, and everyone in the neighbourhood couold come and eat, drink, and break old plates on the sidewalk. No kidding, we heard them all night! But it's a German tradition, and it was cool to watch through the window.

On Sunday, before dropping me off at the station, we went to Max's Grandmother's house to play with the dogs once more, then I was off on my way to Berlin. The journey was pretty long, but I'm getting used to travelling long distances, and the second train I had I shared a cabin with a really nice Austrian lady and a very finatic German guy who insisted he tell me everything I should see in Europe. Was a good source of info, that's for sure! Got into Berlin late and was exhausted, so I chatted with my really cool dormmates and we all had an early night.

Yesterday was my first full day in Berlin, and of course I went on the free walking tour. I was a little disapointed in the guide I got, but it was a good tour nonetheless. We started out in the Pariser platz, and saw the Brandenburg Gate, and the hotel that MJ dangeled his baby out of. We learned a TON of history during the tour, saw the remaining part of the Berlin Wall, saw Hitler's Bunker (now a car park, but we were literally standing over the place where he killed himself), walked through the Jewish memorial, which was quite moving, saw the memorial to the burnt books, which was quite eerie. It was plexi glass in the pavement, where you look down into quite a big white library full of empty shelves. Gave me shivers! Good tour. Met two really nice Aussies, Sarah and Victoria on it as well. The only part that made me mad was when our tour guide was talking about Hitler, saying he was vegetarian, and that no one that clean-living should be trusted! I was like, there goes half of your tip! I just about said something, but I didn't want to draw attention to myself; it doesn't sound that bad now, but it was harsh at the time! After the tour I went window shopping, and then headed back to the hostel and once again chatted with my dormmates for the rest of the night.

Today I met up with Sarah, her friend Nicole, and a fellow Canadian Elise on the non-profit tour of Sachsenhausen, the concentration camp half an hour outside of Berlin. It was a heavy day, but I learnt a ton, and I think it's important that these places are preserved and that tours go there to teach about what the people had to go through during this sick time. It was eye-opening and amazing. I'm not going to write a lot about it, because it was really sad and gruesome, but I did learn a few things. I learned that there were more gypsies killed in the holocaust than there were jews, and there were other groups of people who we don't hear about, that makes it all the more sad and disgusting. Also, I learned about so many companies who contributed to the holocaust, and how they used the prisoners for their own slave labour. It was something else to walk through the same gates, the same houses, and the same concrete fields that all those people did just 70 years ago. Something else.

After that everyone was in a bit of a mood, so we all dispersed and had naps at our hostels! It was a hot, hot day and a mentally exhausting one as well. I had dinner at a yummy vegan cafe, and now here I am finally updating this blog!

Posted by kvandervegan 13:12 Archived in Germany Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Cologne

sunny 26 °C

View_from_..factory.jpgCologne has been really fun! I got in on Wednesday, set up camp in the room and met Gabrielle, from Quebec. We set out exploring the city, took some photos... including one of the resons why I love Cologne:
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...got some Starbucks (it had been a while!) and then attempted to get dinner. Ordering vegan in Germany is proving quite difficult! Especially with the language barrier; even though the majority of people speak English, it’s still difficult. I couldn’t even order a side of fries at the place we had dinner because they just didn’t do that! So Gabrielle got dinner there and I just had a few beers and went to the supermarket afterwards. It’s all good, but I have a feeling I won’t even want to try to order food in the next couple of countries! Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary? Good luck!
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Later on Thursday night, Gabrielle and I went out hunting trying to find some different beers to try. It’s weird because every restaurant or pub has one kind, and they serve it to you in these skinny, tall glasses and it’s usually anywhere from 1-2 euros for one. Like we asked the first place what they recommended, and they were like, “Uh, Fruh! It’s all we have!“ So we hopped around a few different pubs tasting different beers, until we found the beer museum, which was just a pub, but it had lots of different beers! I had a cherry beer and a really, REALLY yummy grapefruit beer. Very fun!

I think I’m on a bad streak of hostel mates… We got back to the hostel to go to sleep, and one girl was already asleep and two Belgian girls were in the beds across from us yapping excitedly in French. Well, they continued to do so for at least half an hour while all the lights were off and 3 of us were trying to sleep. It was really bad! Like it wasn’t even whispering, which is equally annoying, but they were having full conversations at midnight, in the dark! I was like, take your conversation into the hall or the common room or something! Finally the girl next to me told them in basic French to be quiet, and they mostly were after that… until we were all awake at 5:30 am to them getting ready! They get out their flashlights and proceed to do their makeup and straighten their hair in the room. Like, use the bathroom or something?! I “shushed” them twice and they were whispering loudly and rattling around and stuff, like I would never do that. They opened all the windows and the girl next to me like got up and shut them right in front of these girls. It was pretty ridiculous. Gabrielle told me in the morning (because she could understand what they were chatting about) that they were going to line up for a concert at 6 am and were talking about it and all excited. I guess they were really young girls who obviously had no common sense or consideration for others! I wanted to be like, in a hotel you can do that and talk in the dark and whatever, but you’re in a hostel with other people sleeping! Like go out of the room! That’s what the common rooms are for, and they have bathrooms for getting ready in.. gaaaa! So frustrating only because I would never do that. And there’s a certain level of respect and consideration in a hostel that these girls just didn’t understand. They did the same thing this morning at 6:30, opening all the curtains and letting all the light into the room and talking and whispering for about half an hour while they got ready, probably for an early train. I had to get up and close the curtains like, have some respect! I could go on but I’m probably boring you to death!

Yesterday I got up and ready and Gabrielle and I climbed the 509 steps (or something) to the top of the Dom Cathedral. It wasn’t even that bad of a time going up, but we got great views of the city. Going down made us a little dizzy, but it was fun. Calves are a wee bit sore today, though!
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We had a really good lunch at a Thai place, really cheap, and really good and vegan! Finally! Then we said goodbye as she had a train to catch to continue on with her trip, and I made my way to the chocolate museum! Seeing as how I missed, like, 3 along my journey so far I thought I’d better do it, and it was really fun! You learn about the history or the cocoa bean, and then you go into a mini Lindt factory and watch them make chocolate! The whole place smelled SOOO good, and I definitely got myself a souvenir afterwards!
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I then continued to wander around the city, made dinner, and met Cameron, a really nice guy from Aus on a 2 year (!!!) round-the-world trip, so we had lots to talk about. We went out and had some beers and chatted, it was really good.

Today I’m off to Nuremberg to stay with Max for 2 nights; he says he’s got plans with his friends tomorrow night in town so that should be fun!

Posted by kvandervegan 02:07 Archived in Germany Tagged tourist_sites Comments (4)

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