Saturday, March 30, 2013

Loving Nexus and Global Traveller Program

Loving Nexus and Global Traveler Program.

Not only is it good crossing from US to Canada, but even coming back from another part of the world. Sooo quick and simple. Turns out I don't even need to manually fill out I94s anymore!

$50 well worth it.

A Week in Germany: Day 7 - Final Train Ride and Flight Home

Having gotten to the hotel at 1am, woke up bright and early around 6am, to take one last train.

And back we come.  Germany trip... complete!

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Week in Germany: Day 6 - Dachau Museum and 1st Class Train to Frankfurt

The week in Germany was winding down.  Fully using the late check-out time of 12pm, wake up late and then proceed to go to the Dachau Museum.  Dachau was a place recommended to us by the school teacher who sat next to me on the plane when I asked about what there is to do in Munich (the teacher having been from there).  This was one of the concentration camps in WWII was.  The museum was set up really nicely and had lots of really fascinating information.  Being a sucker for history, it was a really really nice place to spend an afternoon at.  Just imaging the horrors that the people must have gone through during this time is beyond words.

For dinner, we went to another beer hall.  Just like the other one, it was very loud and noisy, but people were super friendly.  Once again, beer in my tummy.  The beer here - not much selection, but what is given is pretty tasty.

After dinner, we head back towards the train station, to take our "first class" train back to Frankfurt.  Unlike the other trains we took where we were in the second class train section, we scored these awesome tickets and would for the next couple hours be in the first class section.  Ballller!!!!

The train was pretty empty too, and added to the luxurious experience.  Combined with our Haribo gummy beers and cola bottles, we got ourselves a private booth.  To add to it all, the train conductor, seeing us an empty bag of Haribo gummies, comes by and offers the small pack Haribo gummy bears to us.  Now that's service!

Note: The first class ticket was 2 euros cheaper than the second class one.... and there is no third class 😁

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Week in Germany - Day 5: Munchen

We arrived in Munchen (Munich) at 7:30am.  Being super tired (didn't put on ear plugs 'til 3 hours before the train arrived... so didn't get much sleep) and also was feeling a bit sick, we walked to our hotel (which was < 500m from the train station) to see if we could do an early check-in.  Luckily, there was one room available and so they gave us the room!  Sweeeet!

So the first thing I did was took a shower, then totally crashed for the next few hours.  This was a swanky hotel and everything was modern looking and pretty.  The shower was also pretty nice (it was a waterfall type shower head).

Waking up at 1:30am, we then made our way to the BMW museum.  The museum was pretty cool and learned a lot about the history of BMW, not to mention seeing my dream car :).  Fully electric, doors that open upwards, and clear! 

After the museum, we headed back to the core of Munchen, to one of the famous beer halls.  One litre beers... Mmm...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Week in Germany: Day 4 - Postdam Summer Palace

Today we went to Potsdam.  A small town just outside of Berlin where Frederick the Great's summer palace resides.

Comparing to the pictures online (sample: Wikipedia on the right) and the one I took (on the right).  This is definitely a palace for the summer... and not winter.  That, or the photographer needs to do a better job. 

The most interesting thing I thought were the beds.  They were super small.  They looked like kiddy beds.  The rest of the palace was in gold and the rooms were huge, but then these beds were super dinky - even in the master bedroom.

The town itself though was really pretty.  Didn't get a chance to walk around, but on the bus there, looked really pretty.

For dinner, we walked around and found sushi.  Lol...sushi in Berlin.  Surprisingly ok, though the variety was very lacking.

After that, off we go to the night train.  We will be in a 6 people room where lights go out at 9pm.

Munich, here we come!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Week in Germany: Day 3 - Berlin Walking... Even More of It

Today we continue to check out the rest of Berlin and headed towards the famous tourist attraction - Checkpoint Charlie.

The checkpoint on its own wasn't too awesome, but knowing the history of it, made it pretty neat and thought provoking. 
I mean, if it wasn't mentioned that it was a checkpoint and have displays and historic information (and a dude's picture in the middle of the street), one would not even know this small strip was where face offs between US and USSR, heroic escapes and barb wire jumping happened. 

As part of walking around, we also went to the home of the Berlin philharmonic orchestra.  We couldn't get in on the 1pm free show, but we did end up getting onto the walking tour.  It was pretty cool.  The acoustics design in this place was craaaaazy.

With the Lonely Planet in hand, we also hit up the famous Curry 36 (not shown in pictures)  Here I learned another German word - Bichen = bread/bun.  I have to say, for all the talk about currywurst, it really wasn't all that it was made out to be.  A sausage with some curry powder, meh.  And the other thing was, where is Curry #1?

Just like yesterday, the cold biting winds got to us, and by this point, we were starting to feel sick.  But we wanted to go see the Berlin Wall (there was still one area where there was a couple miles of it).

Went inside a Hotel/café called Honululu.  They had a pretty cool lobby.  Here I had to take a quick nap because I was just so tired.  Once rejuvenated, we headed towards our tourist destination and lo and behold, right next to the Berlin Wall was Curry #1!!! 

Went back to the hotel and chilled a bit, then back to the subway to go for dinner.  We went to this area recommended by our hotel reception person that looks very much like the distillery district.  Had the rack of lamb there which was alright.  Nothing to scream about - seemed just like any other restaurant. 

Nike Fuel Points Total for the Day: 3,665.  Steps: 14,416.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Week in Germany: Day 2 - Berlin Walking... Lots of It

So the plan today: Wake up early (at 8am), hit up a guided walking tour.  See the city of Berlin in all it's glory!

Actual: ...Woke up at 12pm, walked an hour and a half towards the Bradenburg Gate, saw the Reichstag from the outside, saw Hitler's bunker and a few memorials around the area.  But then as it got colder and colder... ended up at a coffee shop, then hit up in the Berlin's oldest restaurant and then some live music in a bar near the hotel :).

@Walking towards Brandenburg Gate:
Noticed that all the traffic lights had a musketeer. Turns out this was so that people would feel more safer and secure. Something as simple as what is put as a traffic light - who would have thought it'd work. 

@ Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag:
Fiddled around with my camera for 30 min+ trying to figure out how to take a photo that can actually see the gate. The photos didn't come out as nice as I hoped though. But at least I can say I was there!  Didn't get a chance to go inside the Reichstag (parliament building) though. Only saw it from the outside. It did look pretty cool, with a glass dome in the middle. 

@Post Brandenburg Gate:
After 2 hours+ outdoors, the -3 C weather got to both of us, and our weak west coast blood started feeling cold. So we sneaked inside a coffee shop and warmed up. We tried to brave a little more the cold cold outdoors, then started heading towards the oldest restaurant in Berlin. 

@ Zur Letzten Instanz (Oldest Restaurant in Berlin):
We were pretty lucky here. We walked in around 5ish without reservations, and landed a table. Throughout the rest of the night, we would see droves of people coming in either having reservations or tourists coming in here to want to eat, but get turned away.

I had the pork knuckle which was really tasty. Not to mention 2 1L jugs of beer. Mmmmm. German beer, no hangover, awesomeness!

Oh, and their desert was amazing. The apple struddle was delicious.

To end the night, went down the street to a bar w some live music.. B flat was the bar. What a good name for a music bar. 

Fun filled adventurous day!
Fuel point total: 3852. Steps: 13,423.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Week in Germany: Day 1 - On train all day

Once at the Frankfurt airport, we would proceed to get the one day weekend ticket (Schones-Wochenende) - With 42 Euro, one could go anywhere in Germany on a train.  Boyyyy we will be using it good :).

A 10 hour train ride later (switching 3 trains), we arrive from Frankfurt to Berlin. 

Arrived at 10pm at hotel.  Super soldier travelling trip complete.  1 direct 10 hour flight, followed by a 10 hour train ride where we took a bunch of local trains.

The hotel was nice.  Very small, but very clean and just enough space.
The one thing though, the toilet cover needs to stay closed - guess the sewage system needs deodorant or something.

Oh, and the whole all plastic no cash worked pretty well.  There was almost no fee pulling money out. In fact, there wasn't even a transaction fee when I used my BoA credit card - it just charged the normal exchange rate.  Only for 1st Tech was there a 1% charge.  But even with that, that was much much cheaper than if I had gotten Euros in the US of A.  The key thing to do though is BEFORE leaving, you have to let the bank know you are travelling abroad - otherwise security these days will block you from taking cash out (as lil friend found out the hard way at Frankfurt :().

One other thing, Berlin in March is coooold.  Burrrrrr.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Week in Germany: Day 0 - En route to Germany

Found a great deal on flights for spring break - $722 direct flight Saturday from SEA to Frankfurt.  And with that, off we go to Europe for the very first time. 

A bunch of firsts:
1) First trip I travel with just plastic and no cash.  Do feel nervous going all the whole to another country with non of their currency.  But with the exchange rate and bank fees super high, and researching online on what should be done, going with 0 euros and just a ton of plastic.

2) First time in Europe.  Weeeeeee.

3) My first ever out of country trip with any lil friend. Ooooo..

Friday, March 15, 2013

Alaskan King Crab Dinner


Crab ... my tummy... Connect!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Fuel Band + Auntie inspired run

Hearing that I am being outdone on a regular basis, today I was 800 fuel points away from hitting my goal. So heading to the gym, I ran.  Half an hour later.  2000 fuel points achieved!

Friday, March 01, 2013

Can Can (Bloomspot Deal)

For tonight, we tried out Can Can - a burlesque type show.  Luckily, we got super front row seats (we were right in front of the stage, in the middle of it).

Never seen such a show before.  Was pretty interesting.  I thought though there would be a story of some sort, instead it was some dances it turns out.  It was good though nevertheless.

The atmosphere was pretty cool though.  $45 for a dinner (salad, main course) and a show for 2 (drinks excluded) - not a bad price at all and definitely worth going.