Monday, October 21, 2013

TRAVEL | berlin photo diary

EDGY, EDGY, EDGY, is the only way I can describe Berlin. I was astounded by how effortlessly cool the city was. The place was filled with gorgeous street art, unlike the horrible tagging I see back at home. The people, men and women alike, were all sporting tattoos that covered them from head to toe, punk-rocker chic side shaved hairstyles, and piercings--oh, so many piercings--on just about anything you can get pierced. They also had some of the coolest street styles I've ever seen; very bold colors and mixing of textures and patterns--I felt like a granny walking amongst them in my black on black outfits. Berlin is definitely the coolest place for people watching, for sure.

Alongside Paris, Berlin has been one of my favorite places to photograph. Thanks to { Sandra Juto's } amazing photography blog, inspiration was never more than a click away. Berlin is such a metropolis and steeped in so much history. I stayed in a hostel right in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg borough of Berlin, and only meters away from the { East Side Gallery }. It was quite surreal to see the Berlin Wall in person; it is described as a "record of the social, political, and artistic expressions of the wall surrounding the city of West Berlin" (via berlin wall art). 

Although I stayed on the Eastern side of town, I actually spent most of my visit in the Alexanderplatz/Mitte side of the city. It was interesting to see a shift in architectural style as I moved from one side of the city to the other. The communist ways of the past were reflected in some of the older buildings on the East end. The results were a very simple, efficient, and standardized apartment blocks. They had a cold, uninviting look to them just because they seem to lack any unique qualities--the buildings were mass-produced and in a short period of time as well. However, I did find them very fun to photograph--I guess it's the graphic lover in me.

I also had a lot of fun exploring the food culture in Berlin. Like most larger cities, Berlin has a large population of international inhabitants, which means you can find cuisines from just about every country, and when you're traveling for a longer period of time, having a wider option of cuisines to choose from is an absolute godsend--I don't always crave Asian food, but it's comforting to know that there's a take out spot around the corner in case of emergencies. But surprisingly, while in Berlin, my favorite meal of the day turned out to be breakfast (I am by no means a morning person). I lived down the street from this great little bar/cafe that serves a beautiful breakfast platter (photo no. 4) of cheese, fruits, cold cuts etc. I loved it so much I went back my second morning for the same breakfast. And around the corner was a tiny hole in the wall coffee shop that made the best flat whites I've ever tasted. I still dream about it to this very day.

Unfortunately, the three nights I had in Berlin was not nearly enough time for me to explore the whole city. I still had about 1/3 of my itinerary left when I had to leave. I guess I'll just have to book more nights the next time I'm in Europe!

Friday, October 18, 2013

PLACES | holocaust memorial


The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Bruro Happold.

"According to Eisenman's project text, the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. A 2005 copy of the Foundation for the Memorial's official English tourist pamphlet, however, states that the design represents a radical approach to the traditional concept of a memorial, partly because Eisenman did not use any symbolism. However, observers have noted the memorial's resemblance to a cemetery" (via Wiki)

The Jewish Memorial site is one of my favorite landmarks I've visited throughout this trip. I remember seeing it from afar when passing through on the bus. Initially, it didn't seem very impressive and even looked rather plain, but I soon learned that it is an entirely different experience to observe the memorial up close. As an installation it is completely fascinating. First, the memorial is enormous as it takes up about one city block. It is also designed in a grid pattern, but on a slopped hill so everything was aligned, yet uneven. That being said, I found walking through the memorial an incredibly moving and thought provoking experience; I couldn't help but feel claustrophobic and isolated as I weaved my way through the aisles--one second I'm running into a group of snap-happy tourists but then I turn a corner and I'm completely alone again.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

TRAVEL | amsterdam photo diary

Amsterdam is such a beautiful little city. I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I arrived. First thing I did in the morning was hire a bike to do some sight seeing. This explains the lack of photos--what you see is basically all I have of Amsterdam--because I spent most of my energy and time trying to avoid getting run over by cars.

Friday, October 4, 2013

TRAVEL | bruges photo diary

Wow. I'm getting seriously behind in uploading my photos. I'm already moving on to my fifth city after Bruges. But back to the point, Bruges is a fantastic little Flemish town in northwest of Belgium. It was quite a change from the hustle and bustle of London and Paris--there weren't cars everywhere trying to run me over and there weren't people shoving me out of the way because they thought I walked too slowly. All in all, I welcomed the more laid-back atmosphere of a small town.

I stayed in Bruges a grand total of 2 nights. I arrived in the afternoon on the first day but had to spend the latter half of the day doing laundry (hey, a traveling girl's got priorities). The next day, however, was more constructive: I rented a bike for a measly 9 euro and set off on a full day of exploring. While it may not be as photogenic as my last city (Paris), Bruges has a whole different charm of its own. The thing about Bruges is that it still has a lot of its medieval architecture intact, so I felt like stepping into a whole different world when walking through the streets. 

Though after Bruges I've kind of developed a sort of love-hate relationship with cobblestone streets. Have you ever tried biking on cobblestone before? Because, let me tell you, it is not easy and a very uncomfortable experience--I was nursing a sore bottom for a week--but damn you can't deny it adds an whole lotta of charm to a city. 

One last thing: Chocolate. Belgian chocolate is the best chocolate. The streets of Bruges are literally lined with chocolateries--which is great because whenever you walk by them it just smells divine. Some places manufacture their chocolates in-store so I was able to take a peek a the process when it wasn't too busy and filled with chocolate crazed tourists. However, I heard from a local that the secret is that the best places to find chocolates are actually at the local supermarkets. The quality and flavor is just as good as the ones found in specialty stores and only a fraction of the price. I still have some left from my trip but haven't the heart to open them yet. They're special, so therefore should be saved for a rainy day.

So bring it on rainy days, I'm ready for you!