4 Days in Berlin + 1 in Dresden – A Review

Before I continue I would like to correct a mistake in my previous post; I mistakingly wrote that Copenhagen Central was the biggest train station in Europe. It isn’t. That honour goes to Gare du Nord in Paris (at least in terms of number of railway passengers). I horribly misread wikipedia and apologize.

Wow, Berlin, where to start…I stimultanesouly feel as if I did a lot, and nothing at all. Berlin is huge, with no true city centre. While I hit all the sites I wanted to see, there were some cafes and small sites I never got to visit, and a daytrip to Potsdam wasn’t something I managed to fit into my schedule.

Oh well, reasons to go back!

I had decided to bus from Copenhagen to Berlin. It was the same travel time (7 hours) but less than half the price, so my decision was easy.

How naive I was.

I arrived into the  Berlin bus station at 10:45pm on a Thursday evening…and we were supposed to arrive at 9:30pm. I can handle 3.5 hours on a bus (as we took a ferry from 5-7pm and I got the chance to stretch my legs). However, when you’re in a cramped, full bus that has apparently air conditioning but none that you can feel, and everyone surrounding you is starting to smell BO heavy…get me off. Plus my back ached and I was tired and hungry.

When we arrived I didn’t have the energy to figure out the 40 minute metro ride to my hotel. I took a cab. No regrets. Sometimes you just need to get where you’re going, NOW.

The next morning I met up with an SFU classmate and we got to talk about her time in the city and my plans, which was a welcome way to begin my exploration of the vast city. Afterwards I attempted to find my way to Museum Island…and got hopelessly lost. I gave up, went for lunch, and by that time it was HOT. I was sweating as I ate and as I made my way back to the hotel. Not wanting to feel like I wasted a day, and also remembering that I needed to look up timeslots to walk around the Reichstag, I took an easy afternoon. I got one of the only remaining slots to the Reichstag during the week I was in Berlin, and after confirming my booking I spent a leisurely two hours planning out the 3 other days I’d have in the city.

That evening, it thunderstormed. Apparently this was the most rain Berlin had seen in over 100 years. Thankfully it let up after about 20minutes, leaving my views from the Reichstag calm and cool as I overlooked the city.

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The next day I was up early to catch my bus to Dresden (thankfully not as painful as the one from Copenhagen). I was excited as the city had held my fascination for 10 years, ever since playing a concert band piece that recreated the bombing of the city. I did a 2 hour walking tour and then had time to explore myself. It was a surreal feeling to walk the ground where nothing but the shells of buildings once stood.

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The next 3 days I took easy. I made to Museum Island, East Side Gallery, the market at Mauerpark, Nikolaiviertel, and met with a longtime friend after 8 years apart.

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Unfortuantely, my low blood pressure acted up on my final two days.

I iron pills with mw, but because I had felt fine for the first few weeks I was only taking them every 4/5 days. This resulted in my getting dizzy quite easily when standing up, or laying down. The worst sympton is my lack of energy…Monday I didn’t start my day until about 11am which was fine, but Tuesday I couldn’t even bring myself to leave my room until 3pm, I felt so exhausted. I’ve stocked up on more pills and will be  taking them more frequently.

I feel as if my exhaustion was a combination of things. My low iron for sure was a large factor. Another is that, right now, I’ve been travelling for 1 month. While I had more time in England, and thus more time to relax, it’s been a bit more rushed getting to everywhere else, planning my days, packing, repacking, and repeat. The next few legs of my journey will be a bit more relaxed, which I’m looking forward too!

The last reason, I suspect, was the amount of transit I was taking while in the city. Remember how I said Berlin is huge? Well to quantify, everything I wanted to do/see in the city was at least a 30minute transit ride, usually with transfers. That place in turn could be anywhere from 10-30 min to the next place I wanted to see. It may not sound that bad in practice, but when you’re spending a good 1-2 hours on 3-6 transit trips in one day, it really takes a toll. And it’s very hard to walk, given the size of Berlin, so transitting is really the only way to go.

Were I to revisit, I’d make it out to Potsdam, take an alternative art tour, and find 1 or 2 cafes to relax at during the afternoon. And take iron pills more frequently.

Until next time!

Next up, Zürich!

3 Days in Denmark – A Review

Well that was odd…got a mild cold while I was here, thankfully only for 3 days…

I decided to try the long distance bus to Berlin…which should be interesting given that there should only be 49 people on this bus yet there are 50…

Ok anyways, onto my 3 days in Denmark! NOT just Copenhagen, actually. I was telling people I had 3 days in Copenhagen but I was only in the city itself for one day. I was staying in Roskilde, a city about 20 minutes outside Copenhagen by train. It’s a gorgeous city, and given how close it is is to Copenhagen I highly recommend for everyone to make the trip out. I did a lot of walking on my first day. I walked to and along the harbour. And kept walking. And kept walking. Eventually, the harbour views become fjord and farm views. Not complaining; it was lovely to have those kinds and views and trails a 20 minute walk from a city.  

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As the seaside turns into a nature path

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Vancouver like weather…gorgeous sun and then 5 minutes later clouds, rain, and wind

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Will my coloured building cravings be satisfied? Stay tuned to find out!

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Cute art along the shopping street of Roskilde

Oh, I forgot…I wanted to open this post with a giant rant about how I could never return to Copenhagen Central station and be perfectly happy for the rest of my life. I will forever associate that place with all things negative.

The first thing…it’split into 2. Depending on where your train comes in, you may have to go up a set of stairs (or elevator) and cross the road to actually get to the station itself. This makes a bit more sense now that I know Copenhagen central is actually the biggest train station in all of Europe…but after Stockholm and Oslo, both impeccably clean and organized, Copenhagen was a shock. It was loud, dirty, full of what were either backpackers or homeless people essentially camping out along the edges (OK they were probably backpackers and not actually camping out BUT SHOCK OF THE MOMENT PEOPLE), and the outside of the station smelt like pee.  And then to make matters first I had no idea which train I wanted to get to Roskilde. I asked at the information desk and the lady said to me “we have thousands of trains coming in every day,”  

Umm yes OK I figured, given that this was a TRAIN staion (I didn’t actually say that).  

“But the next train to Roskilde is at 4pm, platform 26.”  

“Thank you” I breathed in relief. I bought my ticket and followed the signs to platform 26.  

“EFF.”  

Remember how the station is split into two? Well to get to platform 26 I had to exit the station and cross the street. I was sweaty, tired, hungry, and just wanted to get to Roskilde.  

“Eff this” I muttered as I illegally crossed the street to save myself a 5min walk. I saw a train waiting, and I started to walk faster. As I approached, though, I noticed “SJ” printed on the side. I slowed. SJ were Swedish rail trains. I looked up at the screen. “To Göteberg.”  

I went clammy and could feel my breathing get heavier and my face get hot…what the hell? Did that lady even know what she was talking about? I had to grit my teeth to prevent myself from full out crying. I saw one of the train attendants outside, and asked whether this train stopped at Roskilde. She shook her head.   “You’ll want a regional train for that.”  

OK. Thankfully I’m pretty good at talking myself down. “Go back to the main station. Wait 10 minutes, then walk around and see if you can find where the train to Roskilde actually departs from.”  I thought to myself as I trudged back the way I came.

I groaned and swore some more as I lugged my bag up the stairs and illegally crossed the street once more (I refuse to take elevators with a 14kg bag). As I entered into the main station again I happened to glance at the screen to my left and one word caught my eye.   ‘Roskilde”.  

“YES”. I yelled. Out loud. I think. I actually can’t remember but that was the wave of relief I needed.  

I walked down to the next platform and double checked with a station attendant that this train did indeed stop at Roskilde. After a 6 hour train and an adrenaline/panic filled half hour, I was on my way.  

So that was my travel day…to reiterate I hope to never find myself back at that station again…  

Anyways, back to my first day.  

I had planned to walk around the town, and then head back home. But after my harbour/nature walk I remembered a cafe I had looked up as a potential refuge. I ordered their brunch, and spent the next 2 hours enjoying my meal and tea, and people watching. Afterwards I felt re-energized and went to the Roskilde Cathedral to continue my explorations. Plus the lady was super sweet and let me in for 39kr instead of 40kr because I was one coin short.   The cathedral (domkirke) was gorgeous, and a must-see (in my humble opinion). The 12th century building (and a UNESCO site as of 1995) holds the tombs of deceased royalty, including Fredrik 5 and Christian 1. Some of the chapels are breathtaking, especially the ones of white marble and with richly decorated frescoes. I spent about an hour taking in the history that the cathedral holds, as more people wandered in to take refuge from the rain.

This took me to about 4pm, at which point I was finally ready to call it a day.  

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Cafe Satchmo; my afternoon refuel station

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Exterior of Roskilde Domkirke

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Interior

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Margrete I’s sarcophagus from 1423

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Chapel of the Magi; King Christian I and queen Dorothea are buried in small burial chambers under the floor

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Details of the frescoes

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Fredrik 5’s marble chapel

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Christian 9’s chapel

Day 2  

Copenhagen! I had planned to go for lunch at a street food market, then walk back to city hall for free walking tour I’d signed up for.  

When will I learn that my visits to food markets are just not meant to be? As I attempted to follow my giant map, the route I needed to take was blocked by construction. As I consulted google maps, it was useless at providing me ways without passing through the construction. Defeated, I decided to just find a cafe around the city to eat something and prevent the caffeine headache I could feel coming on.   After about 15 minutes of walking,I came across a diner. My cravings for breakfast food intensified, and my choice was made. I had hashbrowns, pancakes, bacon, and coffee and it was a glorious time.  

The walking tour was very well done. I went through Sandemans New Europe Tours, which took us around the main city sites in about 2.5 hours. When I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed  in a new area and unsure what I’m looking at, I find walking tours are a great way to get introduced to the city. For me, the only thing on my Copenhagen list was take pictures at Nyhavn, and so figured a walking tour would be a good way to spend the afternoon.  

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Nyhavn aka the only reason I’m here

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Wouldn’t you want the caption in the background of the selfie…?

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The Marble Church

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That night, I was trying to plan out my trip for Fredericksborg Castle, somewhere I had been dying to visit since I first sawy photos a few months back. As I entered my journey into the Danish route finder, I swore again (another recurring theme) because everything that came up was at least an hour and a half. And the train routes,w hich were about 10 minutes shorter than the bus, involved several transfers, any of which had small red information marks, indicating that something was disrupting their regular  schedule.

I decided to go to bed. Everything could be figured out the next morning.

Day 3  

I ended up taking the bus, as it stopped a bit closer to me than the train, and involved no transfers.  

Fredericksborg castle is a beauty to behold. In the 17th century, it was built as a royal residence for King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway. Sadly, a fire destroyed the original building in 1859, but what stands now is commonly referred to as the “Versailles of the North” due to its impressive Renaissance-style architecture. The interior is absolutely gorgeous, especially the chapel and the great hall.

I recommend using the audio guides if you go (they’re free with admission) as there aren’t a lot of signs in the rooms.  

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The chapel is breathtaking in person and in picture

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The Great Hall

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Detailing of the ceiling

And that brings us to here. If I had more time in Denmark I would have taken a extra day in Copenhagen (to do the food market lol) to explore some of the districts, and then would have done a full day exploring the other sites around Fresericksborg (such as Kronberg and Fredensborg Castle).

Until next time!  

Next up, Berlin!

3 Days in Oslo – A Review

Well, Oslo, I hate to say this…but after 15 years of waiting to visit you, I look back and realize 1 day was all I would have needed to have my fill of your city centre…

This is not to say I hated my time here. on the contrary, Oslo is a gorgeous city with an amazing public transport system and everything within walking distance of one other. That latter point though…turns out to be a pro and a con. After walking to all the sites of interest on Saturday (Opera House, City Hall, Royal Palace, the *Sculpture park), I returned to my AirBNB a little dissapointed. Day 2 thankfully was all about redemption. The Viking Museum and island hopping were exactly what I had imagined when I saw myself in Norway. However, day 3 would turn out to be another drag, as the food market I had been so excited to visit was closed on Mondays. ONLY on Mondays (Of course). I had a nice walk around part of the city with some gorgeous houses, and took a bus to an aamzing viewoint os Oslo, but these 3 days have left me wanting more.

Any reason to return, of course. I want to see Bergen, and of course hike the gorgeous Kjeragbolten fjord. 24 hours in Oslo city would have been plenty of time to see the main buildings of interest, the Viking Museum, and go island hopping. And maybe get to the food markets for a lunch or dinner. But now I know! And this trip is as much about learning as it is about visiting new cities.

I plan to write a post about saving money in Europe, but one thing I want to say right now (to add another voice to the already millions preaching the same thing) is COOK YOUR OWN MEALS. Grocery stores are amazingly cheaper than even pre-made meals at corner stores, plus you control the ingredients of what you make.

In conclusion, next time around Noodles is heading going NORTH. Oslo city will be powered through in a day (If you’re really into museums though and invest in one of the Oslo passes, though, it can definitely be worth it to spend more than one day in the city centre, based on how tiring it can be to jam pack your day with exursions.  

Until next time! Next up: Stockholm!

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Highlight of the trip by far: The Oslo Viking Museum (Pictured: My awkward pose and the Oseberg Ship)

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Old ruins of a 12th century monastery on the island of Hovedøya

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Gorgeous views from the island of Gressholmen

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Wooden houses along the street of Telthusbakken

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More views! This was the view that apparently was the inspiration for the painting ‘The Scream’

The True Solo Travel Starts

My week and a half in England has come to an end, and this post finds itself being written in my AirBNB in Lillestrøm; a 10 minute train ride from the centre of Oslo.

England was HOT. I don’t mean warm, or sunny…really frickin’ hot. 28-30 Celsius and really humid. I kept joking back in Vancouver that I was going to melt while in Thailand. But the fact that I survived that abnormal weather spell in the UK has made me a bit more confident in my non-melting abilities.

I last visited England 5 years ago, when hair was shorter (no you’re not seeing pics) and I had just completed my first year of university. Going back 5 years later, solo this time, was a good way for me to start off my travels. Seeing and staying with family made the beginning of my adventures seem a little less daunting right from the get-go.

So a bit of a recap…I wore leggings on the plane, thinking oh how smart I was to wear something stretchy.

Then we landed in Heathrow where it was 24 degrees. Then I took the tube which felt like 35 degrees with no air circulation. Thank goodness I was only on it for 45 minutes. I (surprisingly) remembered which line to transfer to and thus arrived at Euston station with time to spare. The countryside that whizzed by while taking the train to Chester seemed familiar as well. As I walked around the city of Chester the next day, I was surprsied again at how much I remembered from my previous visit.

Everything else was new.  Beeston Castle, Llandudno in Wales, Liverpool, and a day trip to Birmingham all presented new sights to see (and preserve, with my new camera that I’vebeen dying to use for travel photography since the moment I’ve opened it). Prior to flying out of Gatwick to Oslo I had the chance to spend a few hours in Oxford, somewhere I could easily spend a day or 2 (next time! Any reason to return).

There’s loads more places I have yet to cross off my “to-see” list for England: Bath, Bristol, Dover, Kent, Stratford-upon-Avon…and everything in between.

Completely unrelated, but I’m quite happy with the style of photography I post on my instagram page now. I’ve figured out a way to make my photos have a consistent look, and if you’re curious feel free to check out my profile @noodleyhsiung (hopefully this gives an answer to why my hashtag for this trip is #sendnoodsaroundtheworld).

I just finished my first day in Oslo…consisting of way too much walking, having to sneakily shimmy out of stockings when I realized it was way warmer than I realized (that’s gonna be a recurring theme here, I can already tell…), and spending way too much on lunch ($24.00 for a  panini and smoothie…whyyy). Thank goodness I bought groceries for breakfasts and dinners which almost totalled the same amount as one meal. Norway I’ve wanted to visit you since I was 9 years old and this is how you welcome me? Aiya.

Until next time!

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Black and white architecture, characteristic of Chester

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Llandudno is full of gorgeous pastels. This green was hands down my favourite!

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Looking over Birmingham from the Library (lots and lots of construction…)

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Oxford! Can you feel the elitism wafting through your screen?

Back to the Present

It would seem that unless an event of importance occurs that this blog remains untouched until the next monumental occasion in my life (OK yes my last blog psot was about shopping but you know what I was super proud of myself for cheating the system).

So what’s up with this new period of activity?

Well…I’m sitting in YVR as I type this…about to fly off to London…to start 6 months of travels around the world. Quite literally, as I travel Eastward with a few detours North and South every now and then.

Things don’t always go as planned, and you can only plan for so much. Two things this trip is meant to teach me (AKA I’m too impatient and plan things too far in advance Nathalie stahp).

For those who happen to stumble upon this site, or those who are unfamiliar with the fact that I lightly dabble in blogging, welcome. By all means, please read over the cringeworthy posts of Nathalie Past. They’re…something, that’s for sure.

But I’m also treating this as a way to get back into writing, something I used to hold near and dear but have forgotten slowly as I traded the creativity of words for the creativty of music and the writing of a scientist. But with 6 months ahead of me of who knows what, this is prime opportunity to once again…

Damnit all I have no idea how to finish that sentence so screw it (yes I do this a lot yes I think I’m hilarious but you’re the one reading this all the way through SO PLEASE CONTINUE TO VALIDATE MY HUMOUR).

I thought very long and hard about the hashtag to use throughout this trip. As I write this I’m still struggling, but by the time I post I trust myself to have settled on something very fitting and food related (those who know my nickname will understand).

Until then…,

N