Rakotzbrücke in Rhododendron Park, Kromlau (Saxony)

The great thing about new friends is that they bring new energy to your soul.

Shanna Rodriguez

 

Brief back-story:

Your Humble Blogger has made a new acquaintance just by browsing through WordPress tags. We met last week and she brought a friend. They belong to a group of nurses who came all the way from the Philippines to work and live here in Berlin. So we got into talking about the places we all have yet to see and started planning. About a week later, the wife and I met them at around six in the morning on a Saturday and hit the road.

But, first things first. Before we headed to the highlight of this trip, the wife had to go to school (which is in Cottbus) and finish her paper, taking a couple of hours. I kept them busy by showing them around Cottbus Altmarkt, which in this time of the year is covered with small huts for Weihnachtsmarkt. To be honest, I try as much as possible to avoid this town ever since we moved out, but it was exciting to see my companions’ curiosity about this place that is all new to them.

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Which then made me appreciate some of its beauty as well.

So after the wife has checked school off her to-do list, we went straight to the good part. It’s only about a 30-40 minute drive away from the old home but nobody ever bothered to tell us about this exquisite old bridge, hidden in the depths of small villages in Saxony.

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Dear Reader, this is Rakotzbrücke of Rhododendron Park in Kromlau, Saxony. A perfect circle from any angle. It was built in the mid 1800’s, and it’s also known as “The Devil’s Bridge”.

 

We were in luck because we didn’t expect such great weather in December. But luck has run out quickly, because we then went to Dresden – which is, as many already know, gorgeous – but it was so crowded (thanks to Striezelmarkt and Christmas shoppers). I am not even going to bother with pictures but it at least gave us a reason to go back another time, when it’s a little quieter.

During the drive back to Berlin, we were just so exhausted. Having to wake up so early, sitting in the car for hours, then walking into a crowd full of people can really get to you. But I am tired in a really, really good way. Being in good company can do that to you, and I have no regrets. 🙂

This critter came up to us while we were viewing the bridge. She just posed there like she’s been doing this for a while now. I wish I can get my cats to sit this still more often so I can take cute photographs of them. I mean, look, this cat should have her own blog, don’t you think?

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A rare occurrence: A decent photo of the two of us – because when it’s just the two of us traveling, we don’t have anyone to take photos. 🙂
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There’s something about being with a bunch of nurses that can make you feel really safe.

Family Weekend in and around Berlin

We started October with a long weekend here in Germany, one that also happens to be my dear mum’s birthday weekend, so the family (all coming from the 6-hour-drive-away, North-Rhine Westphalia) decided to spend it here in our dear city.

TV-Tower

We, too, as fairly new Berliners, have used this chance to see the places we should have already seen by then. One no-brainer is of course our city’s TV-Tower (Fernsehturm) in Alexanderplatz. It’s hard to miss this famous landmark and even the rest of the family has been to Alexanderplatz many times before but none of us had ever actually made it up the tower. Unfortunately, we have just about picked out the worst weather to go up because it was really foggy and we barely saw anything other than the cloud we were stuck in. I’m not even going to bother with pictures. 🙂

Entrance to TV Tower: 14€ per person

Park Sanssouci – Potsdam

The next day, the sky has cleared up nicely so we went to Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. This one’s a real treat and there’s no entrance fee for the park itself, and it’s HUGE. There are individual fees for each site if you wish to enter them but we just walked around and looked at them from outside.

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We really were in luck with the weather

Himmelspagode – Hohen Neuendorf, Brandenburg

And for more of mum’s birthday celebration, we had a nice feast in Himmelspagode, this enormous Chinese restaurant built in a very unlikely location, in Hohen Neuendorf, Brandenburg.

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Barcelona

The first leg of last summer’s trip was Barcelona. My wife and I had never been to Spain before so this trip was pretty exciting, considering we have waited since the start of the year for this trip.

Planning out our itinerary for our stay in this city was not that difficult since Barcelona is filled with tourist spots and it’s one of those places that a lot of people had already been to. I’ve gone through different blogs and travel websites for tips and must-see’s until I had come up with a list of our chosen destinations.

July 16, 2015

We have arrived at our Airbnb home at night and we were welcomed warmly by our host, Claudia. We had only booked a private room but since she was going to be away for the time of our stay, we had the whole place to ourselves. It was literally just across the street from Sagrada Familia. Location-wise, it was perfect because from there, it was pretty easy to get to anywhere.

Airbnb private room right across Sagrada Familia for four nights: 92,- €

IMG_3706An alley behind the building of our Airbnb home, right across the street from Sagrada Familia. We’ve felt pretty safe walking around even late at night.

July 17, 2015

Mercat de la Boqueria was our first stop the next morning. It’s an old market hall that dates back to as far as the 1200’s. They sell fresh goods including lots and lots of fruits, even tropical ones but they were quite pricey and understandably so, since La Boqueria is one of the foremost landmarks in the city. Because of this, we had to stop ourselves from splurging on our very first day for some fruit we’ve been missing so much from back home (the Philippines). Instead, we did our shopping at a regular grocery store for the meals we will be having at our Airbnb home for the next couple of days.

Okay, maybe we did splurge on half a kilo of rambutan but only because LOOK AT ALL THESE FRUITS

Beach. The weather in Barcelona was, at some point, literally too hot to handle. We nearly melted during this constant 38°C temperature we’ve had during the day. The good thing, though, is that there’s a 4km long stretch of beaches right by the city! We had chosen a spot on Platja del Bogatell beach and stayed there for a few hours of siesta and a cool-down soak in some salty beach water. Unfortunately, we hadn’t found any lockers nearby so we had to go in the water individually so the other could look after our stuff but that was the least of our worries. There’s no entrance fee for the beach but you have to pay for a beach chair and umbrella if you would want them. Alternatively, you could just bring your own beach paraphernalia with you. What you should not forget, though, are drinks! The announcement from the speakers had constantly reminded us to drink some water because of the heatwave, which was very thoughtful of them. Drinks are being sold there, of course, but those were just too pricey for us.

Two benches and one umbrella: 24,-€
   I guess it’s pretty clear to everyone now that I am not in any way a beach person.
A refreshing glass of Sangria after spending the afternoon by the beach.

July 18, 2015

We have spent the day walking around the city and, when we got tired of that, we rented some bikes and toured around Parc de la Ciutadella. When we were done with the bikes, we just sat under a tree and waited until it was time to go to Font Màgica de Montjuïc, where they do sets of lights display Thursdays to Sundays from 21:30 onwards. You will find the fountain below Palau Nacional. It’s really hard to miss for there is a wave of tourists headed towards the fountain. Viewing of the lights display is absolutely free but the tricky part is finding a spot where you can actually see it.

Bike rental (per hour): 2,- €

July 19, 2015

For this day, we had planned to go to Parc Güell mostly because it felt necessary. It was our last stop since we were leaving Barcelona the next day. When we got there, we’d realised it was smarter to buy an entrance ticket online. We didn’t do this because we were worried we might not make it on time since you may only enter the park on the time you had chosen in your booking. When we got there at noon, we were told that we may only enter as early as 16:30. So we got our tickets and took the bus to Catalunya to have lunch there until it was our time to get inside the park.

Parc Güell entrance fee (per person): 7,- €

I feel really silly to not have known before that it was going to be this hot in Spain! A constant 38-40°C for a couple of days was just extreme. I had assumed that, given we’re still in Europe, it wouldn’t be so bad but was I wrong! What’s fascinating is that, whenever we go down to ride the subway, we expect to feel some cool air from the underground but, to our surprise, it was like an oven there! We were to leave the next day and we could only hope for a more comfortable temperature at our next stop → València!