Why you must try new things

Old friends, new connections.

I’m here sitting at a café on the last day of my stay here in Berlin. Time passed way too fast here, and you could say this is because I’m having too much fun, but I can also say, after visiting this particular city on 4 particular occasions already, things are way less interesting than the first few times.

There are so many things I’ve seen in the city, and I’ve begun to remember the streets and where everything is. Suddenly, it’s not so interesting anymore. But that is not to say, this city has more charm than others.

And that’s when you need to get out there and seek out new experiences.

Or else, I realized. Any city would be boring.

Berlin is a nice city to be. It is very vibrant. It isn’t like North America where everything are so distant and far and those distances must be conquered by personal cars. Over here, one could easily hop on the many modes of transportation, the U-Bahn (underground), S-Bahn (train), or one of the trams and busses – you’ll get to where you need to be in around 20 minutes or so.

I’ve been lucky enough to stay in the vibrant Center of Berlin, where walking home at 2AM in the morning and you’d still people out on the streets drinking their beers and smoking.

There’s life here that you wouldn’t experience elsewhere.

With that said, through my friends I’ve also met many new connections here, many of whom are incredibly intelligent and inspirational. I’m also incredibly surprised how well I was able to resolve some personal issues as well, rather than focusing on what I can’t change at the moment, I’m gearing myself up for the moment and what could be done.

What can I say. Overall, this trip was therapeutic and productive in its own way. A nice city break.

Things I would’ve done differently on my trip, if I were to do it again.

And so to beat the PTBS (post travel blues syndrome) I went looking through footage I took in Europe and from it, I can see why I did not collect enough useable footage, despite having accumulated around 50 GB worth of material (that’s quite a lot of pictures/video footage). The first thing I noticed was that, I was perhaps too ambitious with my 3-4 days / city plan, especially if that 3-4 days / city plan was a free flowing type of plan that had 0 pre-thought and pre-planning to it. My 3-4 days / city plans were also interrupted with other ‘fun’ activities, like hanging out with friends in cafes and bars, going to events and club type of activities – these activities while fun, compressed actual shooting time even further. And looking through the photos, I concluded:

  1. Time spent in a city
  2. Pre-planning
  3. Weather conditions/Environment/how you improvise
  4. Collaborative efforts

Are all factors to consider when you visit a city for creative endeavors.

Travel Fatigue: when you go too far too fast

“Why am I so tired.”

I asked my reflection in the mirror the other morning. It was half past nine and I knew I had to get out the door and get to breakfast at the hotel before it closed at 10am and that would open up a new day of crossing things off the list.

Then I realized, that’s not fun. Travel is supposed to be fun isn’t it? And fun means setting your pace and doing things your way. There’s a reason why I had decided to make this trip – to relax and gather some thoughts. Then I realized, I’ve only been on this continent for a week and already I’ve been in France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and now Germany… okay so that average out to almost a country a day – that’s much faster than the traveling I’m used to – for example, I only did 4 cities in the time of a month last year and that was very well executed in my opinion. I got my rest and I got to see things. So this is definitely something to take into consideration for traveling next time round, and of course, to figure out the travel pace you’d prefer.

I do have to say this year was a little rushed. Prior to making the trip, I thought I had an idea of what’s going to happen – except then plans change – especially when you make plans months in advance and you factor in seeing people as a part of your plan as well, then your plan becomes highly variable and improvising becomes key.

Now, I’m just glad I’m here in Berlin for a couple more days and that’ll give me time to rest up, explore the city other than it’s museums, but the party side of things. There are two parties I’m looking into happening on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here in the city. So that’s that. Have a very Merry Christmas!

Berlin: feeling quite at home

“This city really vibes with me.”

Or whatever the cool kids are saying these days. The excitement to see this city again happened long before I boarded the plane. Sorry to say, but for me Belgium wasn’t that impressive in my opinion (hence I’m skipping blogging about it altogether, other than the tidbit about beware of delays and inefficiencies…) so anyways, Germany on the other hand is clearly the opposite. Not after five minutes my plane landed and I had walked to the luggage belt, my luggage was already there and not to mention I was ready to get my Berlin pass and get out of there.

All of which took less than 10 minutes.

I also realized I remembered the city better than I thought.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been here already that I feel well settled into the atmosphere with a side of what I already know what to expect, what I want to see, what I want to shoot.

And here’s just a picture of that, boys crossing the street by taking up the entire street 😉 #BerlinVibes

Berlin is always a good idea!

So, after a lot of stressing over of where and how and why and who and what and on repeat. I decided to not stress anymore about where I’m going to be for Christmas. Instead, I took the logical approach, which city has all things I love – art, culture, bars, clubs, easily accessible by either bike or public transport and most of all character. It was an easy choice with everything given – Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Cologne, Hamburg Prague, or Budapest?

In the end, Berlin won out.

Here’s why.

Berlin is probably one of the most underrated capitals in Europe, although it is not close to the ocean nor does ancient architecture of this great city still stand – it does have the mighty Spree river to make up for view and scenes. It is very accessible the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Tram and Buses connects the otherwise hard to navigate city. The population of Berlin is by far the highest – at 3.5 million (2012) so for sure there’s always something happening – the perks of living in a major city.

But the best point of them all.

Berlin is probably the cheapest capital city in Western Europe – yes, rent, food, transport are much cheaper when compared to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm (I’ve compared the prices on AirBnB and checked out restaurant prices.) And of course, if you go during the Christmas season, the various outdoor Christmas markets and activities will draw you in. So why not spend the festive season in Berlin I asked myself. And thirty minutes later, everything’s booked for 1/3 the price I’m spending in all the other cities.

I think at this point it’s fair to say that I officially love Berlin. And I surely will be visiting again after Christmas.

numbeo: the price gauge for travelers, nomads, expats

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So you might ask, how did this come about on a Tuesday night?

Answer: a dose of boredom mixed in with procrastination and anticipation of tomorrow.

I’ve been playing around on this site for a while now, in fact I’ve used it to gauge how much money I should take with me on trips in the past and what sorts of damage I was going to do to my bank account and what I realized is that the more I look at Berlin, the more attractive of a city it becomes for 20 somethings, reflecting upon my experience:

1. It’s the capital city of Germany, situated right in the middle of Europe. Um, so of course I’m just sitting here salivating (yes you read that right) at the thought of possibilities of mobility of hopping from one city to another on the train…or plane…EasyJet, why not.

2. The city is very affordable, it’s probably one of the most affordable capitals in western Europe, if you’re not counting Prague, which is unbelievably cheap for Europe and the trend or so I hear is that the further you go in the east the cheaper it gets.

3. But let’s go back to Berlin – another thing that’s attractive about the city is the CULTURE. If you’ve ever been to Berlin you’d know what I’m talking about. The city is really hip, in your face. The west and the east, I would argue even to this day suffers from some disconnection due to the divide that separated them for years. Still, the polarity of the city gives it a distinct experience. i.e it attracts people from all walks of life. Oh yes, from my knowledge it’s vastly international, diverse, and unique.

4. The entire city has a grungy feel to it and has serious weather attitude problems during the winter – did I mention it was cold and hailed while I was there? (Why am I listing this as a positive, I don’t know…) I hear it has a lot of thunderstorms too in the summer… (I’ve seen some Instagram posts)

5. Berlin, as much as I love Amsterdam, there’s just a more serious work vibe (maybe this is a bias) when you mention Berlin. So work and play balance? Because I suspect if I was in Amsterdam, it’d be play and no work and that’s no good.

So yes, Berlin, Germany. You’re on my list.

Winter In Europe – trip planning #2 accomodation/flights

Earlier this week, I had to work up the courage to hit ‘send’ on my resignation letter, but after stressing about it all Monday afternoon, by evening it was done.

A big breath of relief.

I really think this calls for some sparkling rosé to celebrate this new beginning of my life and the beginning of a very productive summer!!

Anyways, since Monday, I’ve been putting more work into finalizing my travel plans. In my previous post, I’d been unsure if I’d wanted to see more of Europe in the month that I have (however, if I know anything, a month is not exactly a long time when traveling!) so it came down to, a city in 2/3 days, or just sticking with a week in a unique city to get the feel of the city and see how life could be like there. That’s just my style of traveling. I know some people like to maximize their time and experience, but my style is more like relaxing at a city and soaking in the vibe of that given city i.e go socialize in bars and with locals and see what interesting opportunities knock on my door (after museum visits of course!!)

And in my head, visiting Europe in the winter time is not a very big loss or concern because this means it’d be actually WARM in the museums and bars! I’d be nose deep in masterpiece artwork and history! I won’t be tempted to head outside into ‘nature’ as I’m not exactly very big on nature (unless it’s a white sandy beach, sun and surfs!) In short, I’ve decided to leave Southern Europe unexplored in favor of a return trip next summer! (Because Europe is always a good idea in my mind and I’m not going to waste my youth staying put in North America.)

è      “The Plan”

December 15. Arrive @ Amsterdam 15:15 (note to self: take an umbrella incase its raining), go check into the hostel, meet up with my friend, and hopefully get a good night of sleep!

Hostel: $50 (1 Night. Sadly, Amsterdam is pricey! I might work something out here; see if I can crash at someone’s!)

Flight: $75 (To Berlin!)

Total Damage: $125

December 16. Head to the Airport – fly to Berlin Schonefeld – stay at the Generator Hostel Berlin!

Hostel: $100 (6 Nights! Who would’ve thought East Berlin’s this cheap???)

Flight: $75 (To Copenhagen!)

Total Damage: $175

December 22. Head to the Airport – fly to Copenhagen – stay at the Generator Hostel in Copenhagen!

Hostel: $315 ($45/Night for 7 Nights, yikes! But still better than Amsterdam!)

Flight: $170 (To Stockholm, includes Stockholm -> Amsterdam)

Total Damage: $385

December 29. Head to the Airport – fly to Stockholm – stay at ??? in Stockholm

Hostel or AirBnB? Considering this is Stockholm, I am willing to shell out more dough for this city (well, I already know it’s going to be hella expensive, so I’VE COME PREPARED!!) I

Hostels beds range from $25 to $100 – AirBnB apartments range from $150+ so for 7 days – so my expenses for accommodation would vary from midrange $350 – $1000 – I haven’t decided on it yet, I might even do a mix, so $800 just to be safe!

Total Damage: $800

Flight: $0 (Covered by above)

January 5. Head to the Airport – fly back to Amsterdam – stay at the Flying pig, possibly, then mix in with AirBnB for the last couple of days because at this point I suspect I’d need some quality sleep!

Total Damage: $800

Flight: $0 (Covered by above)

Total approximate accommodation/flight damage: $2285 (plus: $1315 for my multicity flight to Amsterdam)

GRAND TOTAL: $3600 for 1 month in Europe! (and that’s not on a strict budget for Northern Europe with mini splurges in accommodation I’d say this is pretty good! If I’d wanted to dial back I could probably cut the expenses in Stockholm/Amsterdam by half and that number would approximate to be $2800, but since its Christmas/New Years, I’m going to treat myself.) Next up, I’m gonna search for things to do in each of these cities, mainly the museums during the daytime and the NIGHTLIFE during the nighttime. Party on! 🙂