Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Berlin, Pt. 1

Berlin, Germany
I apologize ahead of time for the text heavy post. The other ones won't be so text heavy because I kind of forgot what I did already. Anyways, back in June I decided to suck it up and go to Europe by myself. I know I moved to Russia alone, but something about traveling alone is more terrifying to me. My sister and I planned to meet in Amsterdam, but I had more time off and thought I'd regret not spending more time there. The days leading up to my trip I stopped eating and had constant anxiety. I'm introverted by nature so going someone alone terrifies me. I had no other choice after I bought my plane ticket so I just went for it.

I booked my flight through WOW airways which I guess is out of business now? That's surprising to me because the flights were packed. I had a layover in Iceland and then a direct flight to Berlin. On my way to Berlin I sat next to a girl named Elizabeth. I don't even know how we got started talking but she ended up being pretty great. Elizabeth is an American who was studying German. This was super helpful when I needed to navigate the German metro. By trial and error, when we landed, we made it to the same metro and she helped me figure out how to pay and where to go. The German metro was seriously so confusing but I was a pro by the end.
My first night in Berlin was terrible. I hadn't eaten more then peanuts and craisins in about 24 hours and I was extremely overwhelmed being in a city that I didn't know. I cried a lot that night and wished that I was back home. J and I had just started dating as well so that didn't help. The next morning I was texting my cousin who had been to Berlin and she was telling me all these places to go. So I got up and walked about 30 minutes to a little Russian cafe called Gorky Park Cafe. It not only had the best food but it filled my need for Russian food. While I was eating my cousin sent me a list of things I could do. I ended up not taking her suggestions and walked to the DDR museum. The DDR museum is an interactive museum that gives you a glimpse into life in East Berlin. If you didn't know, East Berlin was occupied by the Soviets after World War II. I love anything Soviet which is why I chose this museum and fell in love with Berlin. The museum was really busy so I didn't take any photos on my camera, but I do have a lot on my phone.
After walking around the museum I headed out and asked someone to take a photo of me in front of the church. I don't really like photos of me but I decided that I should have some of me so that I can enjoy how much I've changed and I'm sure if I ever have kids it'll be something they want to see as well. I no longer care about asking people either because most people have no problem taking your picture. I sometimes offer to take others photos without them asking. After admiring the church and canal I headed towards a cemetery that was near the restaurant I ate at. It was back towards the direction of the hotel and I'd pass a second cemetery on my way back to the hotel. While I didn't want to be there alone I kind of realized that I prefer being alone because I can do whatever I want and enjoy the scenery of the city.
After checking out the cemetery I sat in Invalidenpark because they had wifi and traveling alone is kind of lonely so I wanted to talk to familiar faces. Invalidenpark has this interesting fountain. For a summer day there weren't many people out and about but there were several people and dogs bathing in the water. I decided to just walk to the top of the fountain and look around from the top. It wasn't the best view because it's surrounded by buildings but when you have an urge to climb something like that you just do it. Close by was the second cemetery that I walked to. I finished my evening by grabbing a burger and beer at Peter Pane and then spent the night talking to my new roommates. I'm not a foodie at all. I usually just walk until I find something good so don't take my food suggestions. While the food was delicious I'm sure there are better places out there.
Have you ever been to Berlin?

Friday, January 11, 2019

Quick Trip to Lake View Cemetery

12316 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
Over winter break J told me he had a place to show me. After lunch at Cheesecake Factory and milkshakes at Tommy's we were on ur way towards Cleveland. He said the place had really old gravestones and before we even got there I guessed the place. I visited Lake View Cemetery on my birthday before moving to Russia, and I've been wanting to go back. Since I wasn't expecting to go here I didn't have a list of graves I wanted to visit and the James A. Garfield monument was closed so we didn't spend a lot of time there. To be honest, I was also feeling very discouraged since I haven't picked up my camera in a while and I felt like I couldn't take a good photo.
This was my first week back to work since December. Being a teacher with 2 weeks off is a blessing and a curse. I planned on editing a ton of photos from my European trip this summer but clearly I didn't get that done. I guess it was good to just relax and stay away from the computer. I'm going to try to get an hour in a day of editing so I don't fall too behind. I've been working out so that usually takes up most of my night, but I'm going to make this blog part of my New Years Resolution. I really miss writing in it and reading all the blogs I follow.
Do you have any New Year's Resolutions?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, NY, USA
Back on November 3 J and I took a little day trip up to Niagara Falls. Neither of us had been there and he kept saying it was on his list of places he wanted to visit. I have always been fascinated with famous landmarks that you learn about in school - hence why I lived in Russia - and Niagara Falls was always of those places that felt bigger than life. Surprisingly I have never been to Niagara Falls or Canada before even though they are both just a few hours away. It was also my first time in New York state. One of the stipulations I made for myself for leaving Russia was that I would take more road and day trips because I felt that if I was going to move back to a place I didn't really want to be that I would explore it more and maybe find the same love for the USA as I did for Russia. Unfortunately, I haven't done much of that, but this quick trip I think sparked something.
We picked the perfect time to go! I'm not a fan of heat at all, so the fact that it was cold made it much more manageable. We also went on the last day the Maid of the Mist was running which meant it didn't take us long at all to get on the ferry. I can only imagine how terrible it would be sitting in the scorching sun. Also, if you couldn't tell by my photos it was the perfect time in fall when the trees are all different colors. The whole drive up was absolutely amazing. Even more, on the drive from Ohio you get this really beautiful view of Lake Erie while driving through Pennsylvania. I really don't know why I don't travel to New York or Pennsylvania more often.
The drive there felt super quick, and we didn't really do much except walk around playing Pokemon Go (because I'm 7) and go on Maid of the Mist. My one regret was not dressing slightly warmer. If I remember correctly it was either warmer in Ohio or it was winder in Niagara than I expected so I only had my windbreaker on. I also have a bad habit of planning out fictional trips but never actual trips, so when I get to a place I have no idea what to do and I don't do the research for those off beat places that I love. I think that was fine for the first trip anyways because J hadn't been to Niagara and I think it's important for him to do the touristy things as well.
I'd love to go back in the spring before it gets too hot and explore a little more of the area. I'll definitely be going back with a list of things I want to see. A teacher told me that there's a cute little town in the north called Niagara-on-the-Lake that I'd love to visit as well as checking out the Canadian side if J gets a passport.
If you'd like check out this video J made with his iPhone from that trip.

Do you have any suggestions of things to see or do near Niagara Falls (preferably the American side)?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Everybody's Treehouse

1212 Trail Ridge Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45223, USA
At the end of April I made my way down to Cincinnati to see Haley and her family and to celebrate Cora's FIFTH birthday! I can't believe she's five already! It feels like yesterday that I was visiting to celebrate Haley's baby shower. Unfortunately, I didn't take ANY photos except for one time. Haley knows I love offbeat and unique places, and she always has a list of places ready for me when I visit Cincinnati. I was only there for the weekend and our morning was taken up with Cora's birthday celebration, but she did have time to take me to Everybody's Treehouse in Mt. Airy Forest.
Everybody's Treehouse is came from an idea Michael Flannery, a local television personality, who wanted a place that was accessible to all children. Flannery worked with many different groups to make the dream a reality and it was completed in 2006. I lived in Cincinnati from 2007-2012, and it still amazes me all the places I have never heard of or visited there. The treehouse is worth a visit and if you like to walk you're in luck because it is in the home of Cincinnati's largest park. We didn't get a chance to walk around, but if it's like any of Cincinnati's other parks you'll enjoy yourself. There weren't too many people around when we walked through it, but there were a group of kids coming as we were leaving. It was nice to have the spot to ourselves even if just for a few minutes.
Have you visited this park?

Friday, July 6, 2018

Houses of San Francisco

San Francisco, CA, USA
I love interesting architecture. I think that's why I miss Russia so much and I hate living in the suburbs. I guess a lot of the houses in San Francisco look similar to one another, but I think I'd rather take a 1920s house over one of those manufactured houses you see today. After we went to Muir Woods we realized we could stop by the painted ladies without going too far out of our way. We luckily found street parking right near it and walked up to the hill. There were not nearly as many people here last time I came, but again the weather was kind of crappy. Also, can I just be honest. If you're going to take a picture of something please take the picture and move so other people can have a chance. Some guy walked right in front of me while I was taking photos and just stood there. Luckily he was nice when I asked him to move but still!
People get the Painted Ladies confused with the Full House house, and although they do show it in the intro, it's not the same house. The Full House house is located at 1709 Broderick St. while the Painted Ladies are located on Steiner Street right across from Alamo Park. They are not hard to miss. You know what else is on Steiner Street? The Mrs. Doubtfire House. Unfortunately, I still have yet to see it, but my sister said she saw it. I was just in awe at some of the houses on the street and the fact that people are actually rich enough to live in them. I can't even afford rent while paying off my college loans. I have a dream that one day I'll buy a house in San Francisco.
Later that night it was really nice out so I suggested that we just walk around one of the neighborhoods because I wanted to walk but also take pictures of the houses. When we'd see a house for sale we'd try to guess how much it was being sold for. The cheapest we saw was $1 million, and it was not a nice looking house either! I decided though, if life keeps me in the suburbs and I'm lucky enough to build a house I'm going to ask for the floor plans of my aunt and uncles house because their layout is my dream home! I wonder if I can get that done in Russia too. ;)
I didn't take nearly as many photos as I would have liked on this trip. I think I might be going through a slightly depressive episode where I just don't find enjoyment in photography. On our last day in San Francisco we went to the Ferry Building and I had the most amazing sparkling wine. I think it was the N.V. Bernard Rondeau Vin du Bugey-Cerdon from Savoie, France. Later on Megan and I took the city bus from my aunt and uncle's house to Haight-Ashbury. Taking public transportation wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be, and Google maps is great for helping you get around. We finished our last night with an amazing salad, salmon, and root mashed potato with vegetables we got from the Ferry Building. My uncle even opened a bottle of wine from 1997! It's crazy to think I drank a wine from an era where I wasn't even close to the drinking age. San Francisco is my favorite city in the USA, and I cannot wait to go back!
What's your favorite thing to do in San Francisco?
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