Tag Archives: explore

City Of Night (Berlin)

11 Oct

Just as Prague seemed to be a city living in a fairytale world, Berlin seemed to be living in the horrors of the past 80 years. I was amazed by how openly the city shared its dark past, Holocaust, Cold War, and all. Here’s a portion of the wall that lies near Brandenburg Gate, open for all to see.

Near Checkpoint Charlie lies this extensive Berlin Wall memorial that explains the history of the Holocaust in Berlin from Hitler’s start in politics to the Soviet occupation of East Berlin. It’s incredible how much Berlin emphasized openness about its horrific past instead of trying to simply ignore it.

As an America, I was proud to see that even in the difficult times of the Soviet occupation that America was able to provide the trapped East Berliners with hope.

This marker of where the Berlin Wall used to exist marks the city streets as a reminder to people of how lucky they are to be free. As a tourist, it was amazing to be able to really see how artificially isolated East Berlin used to be within the city as a whole.
By incorporating history throughout the city to teach visitors, Germany plays an important role in keeping atrocities like the Holocaust from happening again.At the heart of the city stands The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a looming, omnipresent reminder of the atrocities that the German government enabled. The memorial consists of 2,700 concrete slabs in varying heights, enabling visitors to walk through the memorial and feel the weight of being surrounded by darkness.

Just past the Brandenburg Gate lies the commercial district with many museums, shops, cafes, and this very impressive faux Mickey Mouse  entertained tourists on a lighter note.

One of the most exciting thing we did in Berlin was to visit the Reichstag Building where we were able to go inside and walk around the walls of Norman Foster’s breathtaking glass dome. Berlin’s hot new landmark represents the openness of the government with the glass dome, visiting availability, and the view from the inside of the dome into the debate chamber of the German Parliament.bThe central mirrored cone (seen here) filters in sunlight and collects rain water. Make sure to register to tour the building in advance because visiting is free, but reservations are required.

Giant pretzels seemed to be everywhere in Vienna, but they were even more abundant in Berlin, go figure. I love this bicycle vendor selling cheesey and regular pretzels in the middle of one of the parks. I’m not even a big pretzel person, but those cheesey ones were delicious!


Mitte, Berlin’s equivalent of Soho, was full of tiny cafes and trendy stores. This is the perfect escape from the city’s more commercial areas. The shops were full of unexpected vintage goodies and unique items that are perfect to bring home as nontraditional souvenirs. Tukadu is an awesome little store where customers can pick their own kitschy beads and pendants to create custom jewelry.

I love the adorable signage for this frozen yogurt place (or maybe it was a cafe come to think of it). The baby pink, bubbly letters, and sweet bear logo all make this a wonderful juxtaposition to the often gloomy atmosphere of the city.


Speaking of bears, I absolutely fell in love with this cuddly rose-colored teddy bear at the Steiff Store. As far as designer toys go, no one does it better than Steiff. I was bummed that there was no toy factory to visit in Berlin, but this store was a great way to embrace my inner child.

Here’s my sweet little sister Emmy playing with another one of the amazing animals at the Steiff Store. Something about being surrounded by hundreds of stuffed animals seems to being out the best in everyone.

Check out this sweet pastel cafe setting. The colorful chairs and dainty daisies are a lovely light-hearted escape from the heaviness of the city. 

I love this clever idea of placing potted plants on tables in place of flowers both to serve as decoration and as self-applied garnishes to any meal. I definitely want to start setting my table with useful herbs whenever we entertain instead of wasting money on flowers that will have to be thrown out in only a few days!

Rainforest…in Los Angeles?

6 Jan

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I took my two younger sisters on a hike to try to find the hidden rainforest on the Fryman Canyon hike. Sadly, although we hiked for nearly two hours saw various rainforest signs, our tummies started grumbling too much by 3 PM and we decided to abort the mission until next time.

Even though we failed to find the rainforest, we still had a lovely hike from the Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook down to Wilacre Park. We saw beautiful views of Los Angeles as a whole and the massive homes in the hills too.

It was a surpisingly warm day for early January, so we were thankful that the tree cover which encases the narrow path was there to keep us cool during our hike.

Unlike the Franklin Canyon trails, which gradually build up the reach a cingular point, these paths cover much more land as they continually wind up and down the hillside. This enables hikers to look down on the valley of houses from various angles and elevations.

As we exited the trail onto Iredell Lane it was a bit of a relief to move narrow, rocky paths to wide, paved roads, but the real treat was getting to admire the massive house that studded the canyon road.

The wide range of architectural styles, from whimsical cottages to modern houses, pleasantly surprised me. The massive lots and more remote locations clearly allow more building freedom than most areas in Beverly Hills.

This was a great way to visit yet another new area of LA during the last few days of winter break. I’m so proud of my little sisters for climbing over the rocks and dealing with the slippery slopes without ever complaining, and even better,  ending the hike injury-free. The next time any of you, my wonderful readers, find yourselves with a little spare time, I strongly encourage you to explore the nature escapes near you! Whether you live in a big city and have to really search for grassy spots or you are surrounded by them in the countryside, I hope that spending a few hours exploring nature will give you the same sense of clarity and relaxation that it gave me.