Happy, Quiet Birthday

Time flies, doesn’t it? I still remember the cold winter days like they were yesterday…

It was my birthday last week and we quietly celebrated it, just me and the wife. After a toxic work week it felt like a quiet birthday weekend was long overdue. Although I must admit, the celebration was month-long considering that I have received some of my birthday gifts really early and the anticipation of the things we were about to do kept me going.

I somehow lost my wife’s little JBL bluetooth speaker so she got me this one which is big enough not to misplace it. 🙂
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We have been searching record stores and flea markets for weeks now for some quality second-hand vinyls.

Also, a few months back we got tickets to Sam Smith’s concert here in Berlin and it was just a few days short of my birthday. To be quite honest, I did not expect such a great show. He’s just adorable and a great performer and I’m glad I didn’t give away our tickets or else we would have missed out on all his cuteness. 🙂

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Then on the first day of my birthday weekend, we had theatre tickets to see Die Therapie, from Sebastian Fitzek’s book of the same name which I have written little bit about here. I really loved the book so, sadly, I already knew the twists but it was nevertheless a really good performance and I realised that I actually do like going to the theatre and will be looking out for more shows in the city.

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So on the day before the birthday itself, we checked into the Hilton Berlin. Last year we were in Warsaw and got a great deal on a room at the Hilton hotel there and just loved everything about it, especially the breakfast buffet. Since we decided to stay home this year, we chose the Hilton again mostly for the breakfast but also because I got us a room with a view at a discounted price.

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The hotel is right at Gendarmenmarkt and from our window you can see Deutscher Dom from up close. Waking up to all this was the whole point. We also had access to the wellness area and executive lounge that served snacks and coffee and wine so I can really say it was worth every cent.

We lost track of time the night before my birthday when we took advantage of the facilities of the hotel by going to the gym, then the pool, then the sauna and next thing we know it’s already late in the night when we were ready for dinner. We went out and walked around Gendarmenmarkt looking for a place that still served warm food at 10 PM and ended up at a Bavarian brewery and ate crispy Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle). Really, Keto has not been more fun than that night, indulging in what we Filipinos would call crispy pata without any guilt whatsoever.

After our dinner, we walked through Gendarmenmarkt, appreciating its stillness. The moon was bright and only few people were out considering it was a Sunday night. While waiting for the clock to strike midnight, we took a few photos.

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On the day of my birthday and after checking out, we stayed a bit longer in the area since we don’t really get to roam around there like tourists do and just pretended we were one of them. Really, I can’t even remember the last time I stepped foot inside Galeries Lafayette. Since we have been on Keto for almost two months now, we skipped the whole birthday cake thing and I chose something I get to eat even less often – oysters. We had lunch at Seaside Fish & Seafood Bar for my oyster fix and I was positively surprised. It’s the only restaurant of its kind that we’ve found in the city so far and has instantly become one of my favourites. Fresh seafood reminds me of home. ❤

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My this year’s idea of a birthday cake.

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Soon the day was over and we went home feeling relaxed and I have been receiving birthday greetings by the minute which is always a great way to spend the day.

When I got back to work doing the AM shift, the table was set with flowers and cakes and gifts, a tradition we have that I usually coordinate. But since this time it was my turn at the receiving end, I did not know what to expect. I was even scared that they will all just forget about it. This clearly wasn’t the case, though, and I was glad to be back at work again. They even made a low-carb cheesecake that suits my current diet situation. 🙂

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More greetings came in that day from my colleagues and everyone politely asked if I had some sort of celebration. I always replied that I had my peace and quiet, which I seemed to value more these days. I don’t really miss having a birthday party with food and drinks and friends and family and lots and lots of gifts, or even having to spend it somewhere far from home. I’m not saying that I will only ever be spending my birthdays like this in the future because I might want to throw a party or two at some point, but I am sure that I’d be happy to have some days like this one – just me, the wife, and a view.

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(Had my sister not broken her leg last month, she would have come to Berlin to be with us on my birthday. Not sure what our plans would have looked like then, but I’m sure it would have been a fun day nonetheless.)

The thrill of living in this city is still the same as when we first moved here almost two years ago. We get lazy sometimes but it’s satisfying to know that to avoid boredom, all we have to do is get out of the house, maybe drive a few kilometres, and we’ll see something we’ve never seen before. ❤

My this Year’s Birthday Gifts from the Best People

Time went by way too fast again. I just realised during a phone call with my mum that my birthday had been two weeks ago and not just the other week – which made us both just slightly panicky because that means we’re getting closer to our trip to the Philippines later this month – but I’ll write about that soon. And speaking about Mum, it’s Mother’s Day today and aside from the fact that she gave birth to me, I am thankful to her for finally handing me down her 20+ year old Ray-Bans, after only asking her for it countless times for over two decades.

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And she gave them to me as a birthday present (but that’s because she bought herself a new pair), and I love them!

We went to Cologne for the Easter weekend where my sister had her house-warming party and she had to give me her present already because she was to leave for the Philippines a few days later. She put it in a paper bag with a note explicitly saying: “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL APRIL 30!”. My family of course knows me best and the evil sister knew just how to torture me. She even warned the wife to keep an eye on me just to make sure I don’t slip.

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She even took the time to harass me with these text messages. Big sisters are just the absolute worst.

So I took the paper bag all the way to Warsaw so I can open it as soon as the clock hits midnight.

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… and this was inside and I sincerely love it! I opened the bag about 20 minutes before midnight and sent her this selfie with a timestamp, because I’m a rebel like that.

Speaking of rebels, aside from the trip to Warsaw, I had been given this amazing book full of bedtime stories about badass women in history by my very badass wife:

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I actually recommend it to everyone. We got it off Amazon for 15,99 €. Please read this to your children and/or partners or just to yourselves! These stories are really empowering!

And what I also got from her a few months prior were tickets to The Addams Family musical here in Berlin which is due next week, finally!

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I am too stoked for this!

When we got back from Warsaw, a package from my dearest friend had been waiting for me. Inside were a pair of sunnies and a purple dress (because I had been bugging her with my search for the perfect purple dress for my grandma’s birthday for weeks, will write about that soon!).

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Thanks, M.!

Moreover, on the 1st of May we had lunch reservations at a Chinese restaurant with my aunt (who also happens to be our neighbour), so when they picked us up she handed me her gifts:

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This very adorable froggy doorstopper and matching necklace and bracelet from one of her many travels to far away places.

I finally went back to work the next day after 3 days off and I had to report straight to a morning shift. We each get assigned to a “birthday godparent” from our team so my godparent had been waiting for me with this:

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She even remembered my favourite flowers – carnations! Along with it a box of chocolates and a L’Occitane en Provence gift box with hand soap and cream that smell like magic.

Lastly, people who have known me for quite some time now know how much I love shopping at TKMaxx for just everything.

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My cat loves it, too!

Birthday Weekend in Warsaw

We spent the last weekend in the Polish capital in celebration of my birthday. I personally chose this city because 1.) it’s easily reachable from Berlin, and 2.) I just wanted a squirrel to jump on me.

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And so it did.

April 28, 2017

We took the night bus to Warsaw to save one night’s accommodation. This is a new experience for me because I had never taken such a trip before. The ride took about 8 hours and all I have experienced in the past were day-rides that lasted up to 4-5 hours. This has proven really tiring because there’s absolutely no way I can get any quality sleep inside the bus that lets me recharge to last the next day, so maybe that’s something I will try to avoid in the future. We arrived at around 6 in the morning and our hotel’s check-in time wasn’t until 16:00. Naturally, we were dead-tired, walking around on reserve energy.

Lazienki Park

There are many great parks in Warsaw to choose from but Lazienki Park is supposed to be the most appealing one so this is where we went. Aside from the squirrels jumping on you, another thing to look forward to is the Plac na Wodzie (Palace on the Isle) which is charmingly located in the middle of a lake.

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We visited a few other parts of the city which has been made easy thanks to a great deal on public transportation tickets specially designed for weekenders. It’s valid from Friday at 19:00 until Monday 08:00 for a group of up to 5 people and you can get it for only 40,- PLN or about 10,-€.

Old Town

When it was finally time to check into our hotel room, we just rested a bit, freshened up then continued on with our tour. This time we were bound for the Old Town. There are a few sights one can’t miss when going there. Here are some of the few:

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There are plenty of restaurants to choose from but I would recommend picking one at the Old Town Square for any meal of the day. On warmer days there are seats available outside which is perfect for people watching.

April 30, 2017

We found a good deal on a hotel room at the Hilton so that’s where we stayed the night and had big breakfast on the morning of my birthday. We have taken this to our advantage because we were to leave in the evening and we thought we could avoid stopping by for food every so often if we stuffed ourselves early on. We stored our bags in a locker in the Central Station (12,- PLN for 24h) so we didn’t have to carry them around with us all day.

Neon Museum

What many don’t know about me is that I am in love with neon lights! I have been thinking of making my own one, some writing or symbol that I can hang on my window. So when I found out that there is a museum in Warsaw that specialises in these, I knew I had to go there. The Neon Muzeum in Warsaw exhibits original neon signs from establishments from the Cold War days, hence the extra retro look.

The rest of the day mostly consisted of eating and walking around Centrum area until we finally had to take our train back home. Time ran out so fast!

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And we got to remake a photo from my last year’s birthday trip to Copenhagen with different versions of The Little Mermaid statue in the background.