The past two weekends have been fabulous, flying overseas to vastly different capital cities. The only downside has been feeling super tired on Monday at work. Ah well, it it totally worth it.
Last weekend I went to the fascinating Berlin with Gez, Baz (housemates), Alan, Nick, James (Gez's mates) and Nita (friend from home living in Glasgow). It was fun travelling with a group of buddies. We stayed in an almost new hostel that was nice and close to the city centre. Germany knows how to do hostels I've decided, as everyone we spoke to was staying at a hostel they though equally impressive. Must be the German efficiency!
Nita and I did an 8 hour walking tour on the Saturday. It was a great way to get an introduction to the city, especially its complex history. We were frozen by the end of the tour though, it was so cold it chilled you to the bone. The maximum was 2 degrees and at night it went down to -6. There was ice on the ground when we arrived and it did melt while we were there. We had beautiful sunny days though, which made up a little for the cold. I never thought I would think of Newcastle as warm, but it felt quite balmy in comparison to Berlin when I returned.
On the Saturday night, after some weisswurst (my 3rd sausage of the day) and pretzel, we went on a pub crawl. I enjoyed it, chatted to Aussies, Americans and an Irishman, drank some German beer and had a laugh. The coolest place we went to was a building that squatters had taken over. The government helped to make it structurally sound a few years ago and now it houses a bunch of artists who sell their work there and it also has a few bars. It is totally covered in graffiti too. Very interesting place.
After getting home at 4am I was pretty knackered the next day. After a leisurely European breakfast of salami, cheese and bread we headed to the Pergamon museum, which houses the entire front of an ancient greek altar. Incredible to see such a large ancient building inside another building in Berlin! Also in the museum was the reconstructed surface of the tower of Babylon, Greek and roman sculptures and loads of other amazing ancient works of art. Incredible place.
Neet and I then wandered over to the Reichtag, the German Parliament building, now completely restored with a Sir Norman Foster dome on the top of it. We were up there for sunset and had a magnificent view over the city.
The weekend before last Chris and I went to Dublin for 10pounds return including taxes! At that price we had to go somewhere. Dublin was great fun, a very cosmopolitan city that is easy to get around. We met up with my old boss from the science festival in Australia, who has just moved back to her home town of Dublin with her Aussie boyfriend. They are enjoying being back there, and it was great to have their company each night.
On Saturday Chris and I saw the Book of Kells, the art gallery and the Guinness Brewery. The highlight was definitely having a Guinness at the Gravity Bar on top of the brewery, as it had a fabulous view over Dublin. Guinness definately tastes better in Dublin! Totally different taste to anywhere else. Quite tasty actually! That night we met Marty and LIz and went to a yummy carvery and then to Temple Bar where we heard people break out singing to songs they knew as they were played by the band. Great fun.
The next day we headed to the coast on the Dart (train). We went to the cute village of Dun Lourighie, very lovely. That night Liz and Marty took us to the highest pub in Dublin, Jimmy Fox's where we had delicious seafood.
I need to stay in the country for a while to save some money! I'm visiting my sister Lizzie in the middle of March in Costa Rica for 2 weeks. Can't wait to be in the tropical paradise where she is! Then Mum and Dad visit in May/June, and the plan is to travel Europe with Nita in July and August. And after that I'll head back home to Australia. That's the plan at the moment, of course many things could change.
Hope you enjoy the pictures of Dublin and Berlin. And I hope you are doing well in the new year, which is quite miserable up here in the northern hemisphere, with the prospect of 5 more cold months ahead!