'orrible yet optimistic .

My photo
I don't mind if you despise this blog,yes it's great if you enjoy it, but rather selfishly, it's for me.It's oddly comforting knowing that my little opinion is floating around in cybersapce and will always be here.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

European Adventures: Berlin.

Chillin' in Berlinin

We woke up at 6:30am to leave Amsterdam in order to get the 8:32 train to Berlin from Schipol, only we arrived at Schipol at 8:35 ,missing our train by a few minutes! We  had to wait 2 hours and 45 minutes for the next one. Mand and John passed the time by erratically playing snap causing me and the surrounding people around us to jump out of our skin every few minutes. Once we finally got on the train we managed to bag table seats for the four of us. Within the first few stops though we found ourselves hopping from seat to seat as we hadn't made reservations (we sound so unorganised!). Eventually we found seats which weren't reserved and settled down for what soon became one of the longest journeys of the entire trip. The train journey was meant to be 6 hours maximum but due to going the wrong way (I have no idea how that is possible on a train track) and then being caught in a thunder storm we ended up staying on the same train with limited food and water for a bum numbing 9 and a half hours!

Despite how hell-like that sounds I found it all enjoyable , having adopted the role of 'sloth' I managed to sleep through the majority of it anyway. Once we arrived at Berlin Hbf we got the S-Bahn to our hostel ,which turned out to be anything but the 'hostels' we had in mind! When we got off the S-Bahn storm clouds were brewing and I was adamant we would get caught in a downpour, even attempted to put my waterproof on, luckily it didn't rain. We found our Hostel really easily, well anything was better than the maze that was Amsterdam.We thought our Hostel in Amsterdam was alright until we were exposed to the wonders of 'Plus Berlin'. When we walked into the massive reception the wind was blowing and the 'reception' sign was swinging violently, I thought it was meant to swing until a member of staff shouted 'close the doors!' and the sign stopped swinging. Besides the disappointment of the simple sign the place was so cool, and spacious! Walking with our jaws on the floor we opened our room to discover a massive en-suite, bunk beds and cupboards,luxury! From our room you could see out into the courtyard which had ping pong tables and rabbits roaming about it. We genuinely thought it couldn't get better, until we saw the restaurant,bar,swimming pool and sauna! For 10 euros a night we truly couldn't believe it.

Although we'd been up since 6:30am we were determined to check out the city before our friends came the next day. We walked around,admiring the graffiti and the layers upon layers of posters until the sound of live music diverted our attention we responded accordingly, by following it. The sound lead us to what looked like a standard house, as we stepped through the door way an enthusiastic barman beckoned us into the room (which looked like a front room) where a Swedish band were playing. There were quirky paintings on the walls and candles everywhere, I'd found heaven. We had our first tastes of Berlin beer, suitably named 'Berliner' listened to the bands entire set,then decided to headed back to our PLUSh pad.

Our first morning in Berlin was an early one, due to a very high pitched, non-english speaking cleaner. If  I was ever worried about feeling disorientated when waking up in different countries every few days this wake up call only confirmed them. I completely forgot where I was, which country I was in and was totally unaware of who the hell was shouting 'House Keeping'. Ed was also in a total daze and found himself quizzing the house keeper as to what time it was. The cleaner replied in German then continued to bash about in the bathroom, forcing us all to heave ourselves out of the beds.

Our friends from home who were also visiting Berlin at the same time as us ,even staying in the same hostel  arrived at 'Plus' at about 10:30am.We headed straight out to explore our surroundings. We walked through backstreets, beer in hand, with John leading the way we ended up getting lost at least three times so decided to get the more reliable 'S-Bhan' to Alexander Platez. When we arrived hunger had set in and the smell and previous recommendation of the local 'Currywurst' stall was too much to ignore. We sat on some grass to experience our first proper 'country' dish whilst a few of the other lads, after all day and night travelling, had a little doze. The lads decided to head back to the hostel to check in properly and more importantly catch up on their sleep in order to hit the bars later on. The 'Interrailers', myself ,John,Mand and Ed decided to stick around and explore further. We walked down the longest road I have ever walked down to arrive at the Branden Berg gates .As soon as we arrived the 5 year olds inside us all surfaced and we found ourselves instantly drawn to Mickey Mouse , as a natural response we seized the opportunity for a photo. Only after the quick snap Mickey removed his glove and repeatedly pointed towards his dirty palm. We had no idea what to do, we had no change and couldn't speak German, I think we just walked away, with our once pristine image of Mickey thoroughly tarnished.

Ed outside the Reitzster
We walked through the gates and ended up at the Reitzster, where we sat for a while, the weather was beautiful as was the building.After lazing about we decided to walk back down the very long road to explore the 'Siegessaule' which we had earlier passed.The exploration consisted of climbing the thing! There must have been at least 200 steps, and after a days walking around the city we were thoroughly drained. It was completely worth it though as the views from the top were astonishing. We were able to see the park we'd walked through and how green the city actually was, we couldn't see a great deal for trees! After the grueling ascent and equally as fear evoking descent I was very happy to be back and ground level, once across the deathly roundabout that the Sigessaule sat on we went in search of a comfy seat and some refreshments.  Following signs for 'cafe' we ended up at a quaint 'English' Garden however, ironically, non of the waitresses actually knew English. After quenching our thirst with large coca colas , pulling putrid faces then taking ridiculous photos (something we made a habit of doing at every meal, or drink time) we caught the S-Bahn back to our Hostel.

The Siegessaule.
When we returned to the hostel our friends from home had already done all their basic shopping which consisted of, shots,amaretto and lots and lots of beer. With this concoction floating about the place and after a few dirty pints we were tipsy to say the least. We went on a Berlin bar crawl, starting from a bar that we didn't realise was in fact a gaybar, well that was until we noticed the pornographic paintings within.We then hopped from rock bars to beach bars and finally to a shisha bar where we got a true taste of Berlin and more importantly, mint tobacco. We decided to call it an early night and headed back to Plus at about 3am as we were going to the Zoo early the next morning.

After a few dirty pints, worse for wear.

The 'Zoological Gartens' were beautiful. From Bears to Sloths it had them all, a personal favourite, as always is watching the monkeys and their ahem, unusual, habits. Once we'd witnessed enough wildlife we headed back to our Hostel in search of the Berlin wall. We thought we'd have to get the S-Bahn but after asking a local man it turned out that the wall was a few hundred metres away from our hostel! We started at the East Side gallery, wrote our names on a tatty sticker, admired the graffiti then rested at a beach bar alongside the river.

When we returned from our cultural trip to the Berlin wall the lads were already in the pool.We had urgent washing to do as dirty clothes were festering in our bags, we put them in the washing machines then quickly donned our cozzies and soon followed (swim) suit. bad bad joke. The pool was freezing but the sauna was sweltering, still we appreciated it all as we remembered it was only costing us 10 euros a night! After we'd 'swam' (no swimming was actually done) we went to check our clothes and put them in the dryer in hope that they'd be dry for the nights outing. 35 minutes later our clothes were still soggy! We couldn't be bothered to hang around by putting them up to dry so I went out in damp socks, yum! The night started with more dirty pints in the lads room. One of our friends hadn't yet turned 18 so we were worried whether he would get in to Lidos 'Rock AG' night. It turned out that he got in fine whereas we were questioned for ID! With us all feeling happy that we all made it in the tone was set for the entire night. The music was brilliant especially in the silent disco. We all went in, dubious and doubting but within minutes we'd found a station we liked and began to belt it out, I'm sure you're not meant to actually sing a silent disco but we did nonetheless. Being the only British people in the small room at the time we dominated, probably because we were the only ones who actually knew the lyrics. I caught glimpses of the locals moving their headphones back as to hear the lyrics first hand from our mouths. Most of the night was spent there,loving every moment. The interaillers amongst us had to leave as we had to catch our train to Poland, leaving the Hostel at 7:30am. We thought the night couldn't get any better , until we walked back to the hostel, through an under passage ,to discover an amazing band playing a public gig! From that magical moment onwards, I started to realise just how much I loved Berlin.

Despite our early night (of 2am) the lads weren't content with our early departure, singing screaming and banging on our door, they let the whole of our corridor, the hostel and probably Berlin know that they had returned. We got them back in the morning by returning the favour by banging on their door, hoping they already had banging heads. We grabbed breakfast at the local bakery and walked to the train station feeling like we'd only just got off the train there! We witnessed creatures of the night crawling out from every crevice who had clearly been drinking and dancing the entire night. With that lasting image, we left Berlin, full of beer and freshly baked bread!

Bye Berlin, you certainly wern't the CurryWURST place we went!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


I have never been so enraged in my entire 18 years of life.

Having been evacuated from our work place early my sister and I found ourselves glued to the television , watching footage of familiar shops in Birmingham being ransacked. When things get close to home they really do have a huge impact. Videos from  the bbc website left a nasty taste in our mouths and a storm brewing in our minds.

The London,Birmingham,Leeds and now Manchester riots highlight everything that is wrong with humanity. I am all for the power of the public and political protests but these riots are purely opportunities for criminals to club together to reek havoc. The fact that rioters who have been interviewed cannot even confirm which political party is in power shows just how naive and mislead they really are.They claim the reason they are 'forced' to loot is due to the recession , which causes me to struggle to see how ruining small businesses and local shops is going to do anything but sink us deeper into it! A little bit of logic would go a huge way right about now.

If I were in charge I'd place a curfew so that anyone found on the streets past 9pm would be arrested, immediately, we need to nip it in the bud. Why are we laying down and just letting this happen? Water canons, rubber bullets, tear gas, anything to shake them up! What really annoys me, despite wanting to emigrate myself, this country has so much to offer, so many opportunities. Why can't these hooligans remove their masks, metaphorically and literally, and see what they've got and appreciate it!

One thing that made me smile is watching this video of a woman who stands up for herself, her local businesses and Hackney. Also on the news they mentioned how 600 people turned up to help clean up Clapham streets, despite the minority that is truly ruining everything for the majority there are still good people in this world. I haven't lost all hope in humanity, yet.

The looters need to get a lives of their own and stop ruining everybody elses.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

European Adventures ; Amsterdam.

Damn you Amster!

On July the 3rd myself and three friends embarked on our month travelling around Europe, full of apprehension and excitement. We caught a plane from Birmingham Airport, where we all gained an insight to how heavy our bags were. The lads weighed in at about 11kg each and Mands bag weighed at about 13kg. Myself probably being the lightest and in turn, the weakest ended up packing and therefore carrying a back-breaking 14.9kg bag! Carrying it for a few minutes in the airport allowed me to forsee the sheer pain I'd be in for the entirety of the trip. I have an obsession with the number 23, something I've been meaning to blog about but have always put off. We were seated in row 23 (a,b,c,d) which I convinced myself meant that everything would be alright. The journey was surprisingly smooth, having only travelled with my parents in the past I was used to constant stress revolving around passports and tickets but already I was seeing for myself how easy travelling could be. The plane was sprinkled with your typical 'Amsterdam' visitors, people who go purely to abuse the lenient marijuana laws, young and old.

As soon as we arrived in Amsterdam I realised that the seedy city I had in mind had been completely abolished by its clean streets and beautiful buildings and parks. We managed to get a great ,unplanned, tour of the city as we got lost for 3 hours trying to find our Hostel! Once we arrived, we realised that we must have passed the street at least 4 times , even stopping for a break, to nearly give up on our search, opposite it! Our first hostel experience was pleasant, it was better than what I expected anyway. We had two other people in our room, which was interesting. The first night we sampled the coffee shops, accidentally stumbling across the HIGHly regarded 'Abraxus' ,that in itself was full of awkward moments, from not having a lighter to coughing after the first drag.If anyones been to Amsterdam you'll know that it all looks scarily similar, especially at night time, after certain chemicals had entered your blood stream, all this amounted to usgetting hopelessly lost again (something we later made a bad habit of). After another 3 hours trek,we came back to find that the key we had left in reception was missing and we had to wake the two people (who we'd never met before) in our room in order to get in. After a few ambiguous knocks we gave up and went to get a spare key from reception, once in the room though the giggles kicked in. The whole idea of us trying to undress really quietly in the pitch black as to not disturb two women we didn't know at all just tickled me, as it did the others. We found ourselves cramming in the toilet ( we had an en-suite) to brush our teeth and more importantly try to extinguish our giggly bouts.

In the morning we had to endure the same pain as we tried to get ready in the least noisy manner, having packed my bag with everything being in individual plastic bags,this was near impossible! Once we had escaped the room we went downstairs to claim our  breakfast that was included in the price. Everyday the lads had a cup of tea and I ended up having multi-vitamin with bread and butter, very exotic. The three days we spent in Amsterdam were mainly spent at Vondel park, we'd go to bakeries and the market in search of fresh,cheap and local food, buying baguettes and humus we had a beast of a picnic in no time. The sun was shining so much that by the end of the day we were all a shade of crimson! On our second evening we went to Anne Franks house. One quote that really resonated with me was her desire to 'ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I'm free' because it almost exactly summed up how I was feeling, knowing that she never had the freedom made me emotional but appreciative of the opportunity I had, as I had never felt so free.

After another exotic breakfast of bread and butter and multi-vitamin our last day in Amsterdam was spent hiring bikes and almost being killed by trams. We hired them for three hours and within 5 minutes of loosing the lads me and Mand got hopelessly lost and ended up at the Hienekin factory! Luckily I'd bought a phone to use whilst away and rang the lads to meet up in our beloved Vondel park. Once we came back to the Hostel Mand discovered that her expensive filter bottle had leaked all over her Interrail pass and Passport! Although her hair was now green in the passport photo no serious damage was done,luckily. Panic over we went out to eat (something we did every evening whilst there) at some cheap Italian restaurant 'Venisia' and headed over to 'Easy Nights' for a spacey dessert. Returning to our hostel we noticed we had new guests in our room and always enjoyed trying to guess their age,nationality and gender.After a few hours they kicked in, from water fights to whipping wars we giggled ourselves gaga. We slept like babies, we needed to as we were travelling to Berlin the next day.