27 November 2013

Dream a little...

Usually when asking gifts I don't want to ask too pricey or "fancy" gifts. I don't want my family to spent so much money on my gifts, and usually I am myself saving for something I really want. And somehow I think that if I really want to have something more expensive I have to save up for it myself and pay it myself. That way it feels more "earned". Of course I wouldn't mind getting these wanties as a gift, but I would never expect it!

Exploring Germany: Bamberg

From Berlin I had to somehow get to other side of Germany, to Frankfurt. I had made plans to meet up with my mom in Frankfurt, that was one of the reasons I even chose to go to Germany. As I looked up the train connections between those two cities, it did not look promising at all. All connections included at least 2 or 3 changes and the traveling time did not look too alluring either.. So I decided to stay somewhere in-between for one night and divide the transfer into two legs. After few options I ended up going to Bamberg for one night.
Welcome to Bamberg!
Hotel room view
One of my friends from here knew the town and said I would love it, and actually later on it turned out that another friend of mine actually studies there! So I had some expectations towards the city. Right from the train station I knew those expectations would be fulfilled. During my walk to the city and my hotel, I could not keep looking around with my mouth probably open in amazement. It is an old town, so everywhere you look you can see old buildings in pale pink, baby blue, white.. When approaching the city, I had to cross a river and the view from that bridge over to the city in a starting afternoon sunset was just beautiful. Oh yeah, and even the train ride to there was epic, such beautiful views with all the mountains and valleys..(or is it just Holland which makes me see hills as magnificent..) What a pity the battery from my camera died in Berlin so I only have pictures taken with my iPhone.

There weren't that many places available for accommodation, but I decided to splurge a little and reserved a room from Hotel Central. From pictures it looked really nice, but I thought the price was a little over the top considering the timing etc. But when I got there, I was happy to pay the 69€. The room looked newly renovated and my view was real nice. The hotel was also very quiet and the price included a fairly good breakfast.

I arrived there somewhat later in the afternoon as the train ride took me 4,5 hours. I got a map from the reception and went to explore the city. I heard that the old town part of the city was really nice. But to me, the whole city center looked like an old town, in a really good way I mean! So many pretty houses and somehow the atmosphere there was just so different from anywhere else. The old town was located in a hill. At 18:00 suddenly all the churches started to ring their bells, and let me tell you it wasn't just two bells but more like 100. This town probably had one church per each inhabitant. After recovering from that shock, I climbed up to the highest point(that I could reach without going to people yards at least) and the view from up there was amazing. Sun setting and a nice brisk autumn weather redden my cheeks.. 

On my way down from the old town, I went trough a garden of this big church. There were signs but they were in weird german so I am not sure what they said, but I assumed that it was allowed to use the path. When I got down almost to the road I was heading to, there was this super scary shack between me and the road. There was no way of going around it so I just had to go trough. The door was open, but inside it was totally dark. You can imagine me all alone with my vivid imagination in an old church's  garden in Germany.. I was pretty scared. But luckily I survived, but it took a few minutes for my heart rate to recover. Now that I think about it, it seems silly but oh well... :-)

After this interesting experience, I tried to find this one beer I was told to bring from Bamber - apparently the best beer in the world or something.. But somehow, I could not find it from any store. I had a nice dinner and went to bed quite early. The week had certainly taken the toll out of me and I was super excited to see my mum the next day!

The next day, I continued my journey early in the morning, straight from breakfast headed to the train station and off to Frankfurt. From the smallest shop in Bamberg, at the station I even found the beer I was looking for. A nice start for the day!

26 November 2013

Exploring Germany: Berlin

For Berlin I had some big expectations. I had heard zoo many good things about the city, the atmosphere and everything you can do there. I even dedicated basically three days of my trip for the city, so I stayed there for two nights. I arrived there on Tuesday afternoon after my train being late and also not finding my seat on the train(it turned out the carriage I was supposed to be in, did not even exist??). Once again, I headed over to the tourist information where I met the most rude customer service ever. Eventually I manage to get a city map and some flyers on what to do. I also bought a subway ticket that I did not know how to use. I was planning on taking the underground to my hostel, but surprise surprise the one line that I was supposed to use was out of order. Tired and frustrated I went to find wifi and navigated myself there. On the way I also saw some parts of the city so it was a nice walk, even though my bag was getting to get kind of heavy from my shoppings. But hey, I am a gutsy Finn what couldn't I do?

walking and sightseeing
Finally checked in to the Hostel, Hotel M68 (45€ per night) which was pretty good from what I was expecting. It was located in a very nice place, right next to some museum and near to checkpoint charlie and other sightseeing places in the southern part of the city center. My room was also suuper spacious so I was happy with that, even though I had to share the bathroom and toilet.

When I had settled in, it was getting kind of late and I decided to hit the town for a little evening walk and maybe plan some things for the next day like what should I do and see. I walked to the Dom, found a 24/7 supermarket, bought some food and then walked back. It was Tuesday night, so there was not so many people out. Also I noticed that half of the city was under construction? When returning back to the hostel I realized that my room's window was an old display window, good thing it was not located in a red light district :-D

my window on the right (second floor)
The next day I slept in as I was already pretty tired from all the traveling and endless walking, so I had tons of energy for the upcoming day. First I wanted to get some breakfast and managed to find a cute little cafe. Then I headed over to checkpoint charlie, my first tourist-sightseeing place of the day. When I was doing some research on what to see in Berlin, it seemed that everything was kind of separated from each other all around the city so I figured it would be most reasonable to buy a ticket for a hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus, and so I did (that cute ticket seller might have helped the situation a little bit - i bet that is their trick to maximize revenue, only hire cute guys ;-). In the end it paid off quite well I think. I saw the biggest "must-see" places without having to spent hours on just getting from one place to another by walking too much as that I had done a lot already. 

Being a full-on-tourist, and not feeling sorry about it!
The bus took me to another "center" in the western part of Berlin, where the biggest department store KaDeWe and other great shopping places were. I don't know if I had even went there without the sightseeing bus. On the bus there was a loudspeaker system telling some interesting facts about the landmarks too. 

A little Häagen-Dazs moment
Basically I spent the whole day sightseeing and walking around randomly, while enjoying the local treats of course. I also went to the Dali-museum/exhibition and after that enjoyed a 360' view platform at Panoramapunkt where I witnessed the amazing view over Berlin and a gorgeous sunset, combined with an experience of the fastest elevator in Europe(8,5m/s). Later I decided to try out my underground ticket and did a little subway-travelling. In my "home" station, I found this little food booth that sold some kind of wraps in the style of Subway. You could choose your fillings and sauces etc. And let me tell ya - it was yummy stuff for four euros!

The next day(Thursday) I had plans to leave early for my next destination, but the connection weren't that great. So I dropped off my bag to the train station, bought a seat ticket for an afternoon train and strolled around the city for a little while. In the northern part of the city there is this place called Hackescher Markt where you can find all sorts of shops, cafes and art places. Previous night I spotted the cutest little vegan cafe called Gün-Ohr and I had to return there. They sold the yummiest cupcakes and for sure the best vegan candy I have ever tasted! There was also a market sale thingy going on in the neighborhood and amazingly good smelling food for sale. I lost track of time while walking around so in the end I was kind of in a hurry to catch my train(which, of course, ended up being 15 minutes late). At the train station I also got lost and forgot where I left my bags, as there were luggage holds in every floor in two places.

Ready for the next destination!
Healthy breakfast
Preparing myself for the 4,5 hour train ride

Just a normal H&M??

Some ideas for overall badges(Finnish student thing)

Happily I made it to my train and it was time to say goodbye to Berlin. 

As a summary I have to say that Berlin was not that great that I had imagined. Maybe I would have to go there with someone who knows the town better to really see some authentic places rather than the tourist ones. Now I basically just saw a lot of tourists and the town it self did not seem that exciting. I will probably in some point give Berlin another shot, but for now I am ready to explore other places.

25 November 2013

Monday in Amsterdam

Right in the beginning of my exchange, I joined a group on Facebook for student in Groningen. One day on that group I saw a post by someone I did not know. He asked if anyone liked a band called Daughter and would like to join him for a concert in Amsterdam or Tillburg. I have been a fan of that band for a quite a while now, but never had the change to see them live. I am not sure if they have been to Finland but at least I never spotted them playing there. So I decided to reply to that enquiry positively. A little while after that we made plans to see them and right after that bought tickets. It was a good choice to buy the tickets right away, even though the concert seemed to be so far away, as apparently a few others also like their music and the gigs turned out to be sold out.

Last monday(18th of November) was finally time to head over to Amsterdam. Luckily, we got to enjoy a very nice day there, just strolling around and seeing the city. I think we walked around for like four hours. I had been to Amsterdam once before, but then the weather was so bad that I did not get the best vibes from the city. This time, I liked it a lot more and I think there is still so much to see in there.

After walking around without any actual direction with Giovanni and his friend, we found a really nice restaurant to warm up in a bit before heading over to the venue. The down side of traveling with Italians must be their eating schedule, haha. So it was a cappuccino and brownie for "dinner" then.

When we got inside the venue, I was very impressed. The place was just gorgeous. High sealing, three levels; ground-/dancefloor and two levels of balconies, church-like paintings on the windows... Very nice but still not too fancy. The place, Paradiso, organizes a lot of different concert and other cultural happenings and for sure it is perfect for such.

As an opening act was this duo, whose name I do not remember, but it consisted of a woman singing and a man playing violin. I loved the violin part, that always gives a song some little extra and I just love the sound of it. But overall, it wasn't anything special in my opinion.

But oh Daughter instead.. The whole hour and a half(maybe?) they played was magical. The acoustics of the hall was superb, the lights were just right and the crowd was very civil - nothing annoys me more than too drunk/space-taking people at gigs. And of course not to forget, Elena Tonra was gorgeous as always with a beautiful live performance and singing.. I didn't mind the other band-members either ;-)

This is how I would like to spend all my Mondays; great company, good music and a wonderful city!

24 November 2013

Football Sunday

Today we had tickets to see the football game between the local team FC Groningen and PEC Zwolle. We got the tickets for a really good price I would say- 10 euros each- considering our seats were very good. Fourth row in the corner of the field, so the view was quite nice.

The game itself wasn't anything special, not the best playing I have seen have to admit. But the mood at the station was crazy. Right behind and above us were the loud fans from Zwolle eagerly trying to push their team to win. Have to admit they had some dedication, I don't know if it was the cold weather that kept them going but it was 90 minutes of intense cheering for them.

During the half time, inspired by the little boy in front of us, a little hungover ourselves wanted to get some fries. It turned out, at the stadium they don't accept real money. Everything had to be bought with munts. And these munts were available from a wending machine in exchange for bills. 20 euros worth of munts, no thank you. So we gave up on that dream and instead enjoyed the rest of the game hungry and freezing.

The experience was really nice, some similarities to Finnish ice hockey games (but none to football).

Exploring Germany: Hamburg

Two hours from Bremen, I arrived to the central station of Hamburg. My first plan was to find an info desk, where I could get a city map and actually locate myself. I did not have any plans figured out before my trip, so I just kind of went with feelings. Finally I got the map and also a 24 hour underground/bus ticket. I ended up using that ticket only twice, so it was not that useful.

THE Hotel Beefang

View from the room

I knew that my hostel was quite near the station, so my next step was to find my way there. There was no wi-fi available so I kind of just went where I thought it was. About 200 meters from the station, in the middle of nice buildings there was what seemed to be a "chinese block". Of course, the hostel was there. From outside the place did not look promising, on the door it said "Chinese tourist center". My room however was really nice, big with my own shower and toilet, television and a double bed. Quite a good room I would say for the price I paid. And not to mention, it was located like 300 meters from the train station. 

Love this building!

I checked in and went to see the city. As I had no plans made before hand where I would visit, I just decided to hit the main shopping streets and look around. There were two big streets side by side filled with all kind of shops and department stores. My favorite must be this one store Thomas I Punkt which sold mostly super cool mens clothing, accessories and shoes. The stuff in there was so cool, If I was a man I would have gone mad in there. So definitely worth visiting for. Apparently they have more stores around Hamburg also, and they sell a local brand which also manufactures all their clothes in Hamburg, thumbs up for that! Unfortunately the selection for women was very poor and strange, so I ended up leaving empty handed, though with a big smile on my face as the shop assistant were so nice. I was wearing my new Liberty of London Vans and they wanted to take a picture, so I deputed my career as a shoe model also... :-D

While strolling around the city, I somehow managed to find the coolest places in my opinion, and knowledge also. And I fell in love with it. Everything was so clean, beautiful and peaceful. The center was full of life and I must admit, super stylish people! No wonder, as I did see some very alluring shops.

Here you can find e.g. Hérmes ...

Nice place for having lunch or a coffee

The next day, my previous plan was to leave early in the morning to Berlin, but as I liked the city so much I decided to give it a couple more extra hours. I ate lunch at a place called Dean&David and - though the service there was not the best I have experienced - the food was excellent. Tummy happy and filled with yummy food, I once more went around the city  - and found even more cool places.

Can't wait to get back there, I could easily see myself even living there.

Hamburg you stole my heart!

23 November 2013

Dear Santa..

This year I am waiting for christmas more than ever. One reason is of course because I see my family and dear friends after 4 months again. The second reason that I get to spend almost two weeks at home, I ensure you I will most definitely enjoy my own shower and sauna, clean toilet and my fluffy blanket! One thing I am also looking forward to a lot is an OVEN. I never thought it would be so, not difficult, but weird to live without an oven. So during those two weeks I will be baking, a lot. I have already collected a decent amount of new recipes I want to try. So all friends and family - be prepared to be eating not only christmas food but my bakings too, hah!

As an every year tradition, I crafted some chirstmas wanties(with my glorious editing skills). I really don't have anything in particular I would want this year, but believe it or not, I did manage to find some things while strolling around the oh so loyal world wide web.

Here we can see my addiction to cute and comfy, meaning all those sweaters. Want them all! 
Those overalls would be perfect for snowboarding - no more freezing butts and snow inside my panties. Yes, please.

I also had to go check out the selection from stockmann.com and I did end up finding some cute things for my christmas list. I am weak for all those cute things for kitchen. And in my opinion, you can never have enough bed linen ;-)

And them to some other dreams. After my exchange I most probably will have some time before my studies continue again in Finland(not confirmed information!), so then would be a purrfect time for a little getaway. To the city of angles perhaps.. 

But for real, all I am asking for Christmas is all my family safe and sound in one place. This year we could try to survive without power cuts or any other unnecessary hustle. 
Lots of sleep, lots of snow, lots of warm cozy clothes, friends, family and Santa Claus of course. 

p.s. If someone knows a decent photo editing program for Mac, please inform me asap. Thank you!