A Bicycle in Berlin

2014-08-16 03.49.45There is no better mode, I am convinced, of reaching ALL your Berlin destinations (but it’s about the journey, right) in 24 hours, than renting a bicycle. They have designated lanes. It feels safe. And it is flat! CRUZIN.

What is Berlin if not efficient? I hit up a lot of your standard architecture:

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Victory Column

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Spree! aka best possible name for a river or any location

How smart were all the city planners to actually let you bike along all the sprees in Euro? In bike lanes, no less. It feels lucky.

At ALEXANDERPLATZ, I said, “oh yes, you should buy this nightgown, this nesting doll for your mama, and this sausage and fry combination:”

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Saying “Alexanderplatz” makes me feel giddy, and I think my name would work well here too. I may start calling my apartment Daraplatz.

It started to thunderstorm, and I took cover under some awnings! Until my usual restless “get lost” approach to city exploration resumed, and I took off in the direction of the Berlin Wall.

Il Arrive!

2014-08-14 14.51.45So, I barely made my train to catch my flight from Nice to Berlin. All because I forgot that stopping for “lunch” in France means:

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…and then this









followed by what would have been chocolate mousse, but wait…no…experience…memories …learning. Skipped it (with a tear) and ran to the station. I had purchased a ticket in advance. But when you use an American credit card, you can only pick up your ticket from a station agent. That line was 20 people deep, and the train was coming in 4 minutes. Getting all tense just remembering! I desperately inserted my card into the ticket machine. No go. Then stood in line indecisively. Tried another ticket machine. Ran around. Asked station agents what to do. They said, stand in line. Bah! Looked at my wallet. COINS?!? Ran to machine. Had the exact amount of change to get to Nice Saint Augustin. No more, no less. EURO COIN EURO COIN, clunk clink cluuuunk. Ran. Which quai? Doors close. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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Au revoir, au revoir. Guten tag!2014-08-15 13.15.37

La Nourriture

2014-08-14 14.32.21Aside from all my beach times, I treated this trip in particular like my vacation. Meaning higher on the leisure and lower on l’histoire. I took myself to a French film and out on the town for rosé, crêpes, et moules-frites. Spent evenings walking along the shore and dipping in the blue that was cooling off between day and dark.


I returned again and again to La Crêperie on Rue Meynadier. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Ok! On the left, we have a galette au fromage, then a crêpe à la glace (AU CHOCOLAT), then another with sausage and apples. C’est cool. That one filled with ice cream was still marvelously crispy on the outside!

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Here are the moules-frites I had close to the beach in Cannes. A big pot, and more than I could chew! A perfectly content gal:

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Île Sainte-Marguerite

2014-08-14 04.42.55This island off the coast of Cannes is by far my favorite spot. I took the ferry out early one morning when the sun was bright. If you arrive early enough, you can secure one of many natural sunning and swimming nooks along the cliffs of the island. Climb down carefully along the stones, and lay out your towel to warm in the sun. The water is crystal clear, and the waves are gentle, but choppy enough so as not to be boring. Slip carefully into the blue, and shift your body along the underwater stones until you are in the clear. Lay your head back and bob with the plushy, smooth water. Then rest in the shade of the pine trees or sun yourself off on the rocks, letting the bright fill your head and heart. This is my happy place.

2014-08-14 04.45.48As the day comes on strong, the ferries bring on more nook-seekers. It’s a good time to gather up your picnic and find shade.

2014-08-14 04.32.36Walking the length of Île Sainte-Marguerite would be a good flat hike. It’s 3 km long, and has an old prison where the Man in the Iron Mask was held. It’s sad to leave the island, but makes one look forward to more adventure. Comforting to remember that it’s only a 15-minute ferry from Cannes.

The Island of My Dreams

2014-08-14 04.43.02There’s an island,
2014-08-14 04.44.30the thought of which turns my heart to jubilation.
2014-08-14 04.42.10With stony seaside nooks and cool overhead pines,2014-08-14 07.07.08Île Sainte-Marguerite.

La Belle France

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Oh belle France, comment je vous aime! I chose to spend the biggest block of vacation time in France: 4 nights in Cannes. It was the first time in a few months I felt almost at home; I could finally understand what people around me were saying! I stayed in a cheap hotel not far from the beach. It’s hard to be very far from the beach in Cannes!

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Le Vieux port

Fancy people were all around. Check out the yachts above! They pull right up to the center city, right next to le Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the film festival is held.

One of my first excursions was au Musée de la Castre, which is at the top of a prominent hill in Cannes. This was built during the Middle Ages by the monks of Lérin. I crawled through a very cramped staircase to reach the top of the tower and take the photo shown at the top of this post and the one below. Cannes has these verdant rolling hills inland that nestle nicely with all the red roofs.

2014-08-13 06.47.30I had been to Nice before, but that was in the winter. Cannes in August was bliss. Things got a little muggy overnight, and I got many a mosquito bite in my hotel room, but otherwise it was perfect beach weather. Particularly a seaside heaven in the evening hours, the sun setting, and waves crashing on the rocks:

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On to Ankara!

2014-08-09 11.52.21For the flights from Vienna to Istanbul to Ankara, I did not have the best of luck. My first flight was delayed by almost 4 hours, I missed the connection, and stood in line for several hours in Istanbul trying to get re-booked. When I finally got my new flight, that one was delayed by several hours, so I didn’t arrive in Ankara until the early morning, about 4am. I got on a bus into the city and then into a confusing taxi ride where we could not understand each other, since not a word of English was spoken. I finally made it, and all was well!

I was in Ankara for a beautiful wedding, and the bride took such good care of me, even taking me around the city the day before her wedding! For lunch, I was spoiled with the following:

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Turkish kebap

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Rakı, the anise-flavored national alcoholic beverage








Afterwards, I rode the metro with a friend of the bride’s and was given a brief tour of Ankara, including the Ankara Castle. It was once under the control of the Romans and Byzantines!

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The castle had great views of the city, and was lovely at sunset. As the sun went down, you could hear the call to prayer and the chants reverberating cross-town:

Wien and the Start of an Epic 11-Day Voyage

Months have passed since the most epic travels of my year, so it is PAST DUE to tell the tales.

Between August 7th and August 18th, I went from Vienna –> Ankara –> Cannes –> Berlin –> Prague and back to Villach. 5 countries in 11 days! And all with my little backpack.

I only had 1 day in Vienna, but managed to pile up on the desserts and architecture. Vienna reminded me of Budapest, but with much more opulence and less destruction. Also–best transit ever! Metro, city trains, trolleys, buses. Everything!

One of my first stops was the Schloß Schönbrunn, a sprawling Habsburg baroque palace with giant botanical gardens.

2014-08-07 07.31.55Among the gardens was a set of “Roman ruins” which I thought might actually be Roman ruins, but were actually designed in 1778 to have that ruined horticultural look. Totally, blossoming gardens were WAY mainstream back then.

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I stumbled upon some other lovely buildings in downtown Wien.

Here’s the Karlskirche:

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And the intricacies of the Rathaus:

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I also loved the way the sun was shining through this fountain:

2014-08-07 12.43.50All this walking made me crave the dessert delicacies Vienna is famous for. Can’t forget the Sacher-Torte, a moist chocolate torte invented in 1832. I had some at the original Hotel Sacher. The hotel had two areas where you could purchase the torte. I luckily found the more “lowbrow” section, where I quickly sat down outside in the evening sun, sipped my massive eis cafe, and savored each bite.

2014-08-07 13.25.30In the morning, it was off to the airport for me, but not before a quick stroll through the amusement park called Prater. I love the fun English signs you come across:

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Villacher Kirchtag

It’s been a while! Time to put up the goods!

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2014-08-02 16.15.28The largest yearly event in Villach is the Villacher Kirchtag, or Church Day, which actually lasts a week. Most people dress up in traditional garments, and crowds come in from throughout Austria and Italy. Saturday of the week is the unofficial Italian Kirchtag, when the majority of attendees are super-clearly Italian. There’s lots of polka and traditional music, lots of sausage, lots of beer, and lots of really intense amusements!

10596243_1488668361371384_1106348241_nDown to the food:
There’s a soup contest (kirchtagsuppe), consisting of milky-colored thin broths made of meat. I got to dip sweet bread in mine, and the taste got better and better as I got used to it. Also, LANGOS made an appearance. <3 Sigh and yum. Not to mention, the cute stands of cream-filled chocolate puffs and heart-shaped cookies (Ich liebe Dich!/I love you!).

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I <3 Langos

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Austria knows how to construct really tall and scary rides really quickly. This video encapsulates the music that young Austrians seem to be into (club hits, y’all), as well as the terror of these quickly assembled (but actually safe-looking and fancy) rides. I stuck to the Ferris wheel.


Woo Hoo!!

Oh But There’s More!

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While in Ljubljana, I managed to fit in hours at the zoo, hours in the grass at Tivoli Park, and an hour eating Sokol, a mushroom soup served in a bread bowl, while reading in Old Town. This poor elephant was picking up lots of dirt with her trunk and throwing it on herself to try and keep cool. The monkeys seemed plenty content swinging about!

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Bear! Seeking fish

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Sokol (and a coca!)

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Taking a rest!

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From my spot in the grass at Tivoli











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