Sunday, August 4, 2013

" Siempre Madrid "

It has always been in my heart of hearts to visit Madrid
and we finally did last winter, despite the cold.
Next to Paris,
I am sans doute in love with Spain's language and culture,
can't explain why, blame it for watching much of Almodovar's films and relying on subtitles or poor dubbing.
I even studied Spanish many moons ago,(okay, not so long ago) though I hardly used it at all.
Good thing all those conjugations and verbs are still intact, as it became useful for us
despite my err... broken and choppy Spanish phrases. ^0^

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In a nutshell, Madrid is a city that never sleeps, almost the exact equivalent of NYC.
It's chaotic, boisterous and bursting with life.
There's a story in every structure, a mixed of old and new.
A haven for shopaholics and
The city's thriving foodie scene will make you crave for more.

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But it has its 'highs' and 'lows', on one hand, the pretty scenarios are all lined up in a row.
you have the majestic Metropolis along Gran Via, the stunning Plaza de Oriente where Palacio Real is located,
and the idyllic Retiro Park just to name a few.

Retiro Park
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Palacio Real
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the debod temple
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on the other, the back streets can be a bit sketchy at night,
beggars abound, a handful of prostitutes and "carteristas" (pickpockets) stay close around the area.
In fact, we're warned more than once by local Madrileños to be wary of our belongings esp.our cameras. ^0^

But it's generally safe in this city, so nothing to worry about.

Our hotel is in the Callao area, near Gran Via.

- A 15-20 minute walk to "El Museo de arte Thyssen-Bornemisza", or The Debod temple.
- A minute to get into the Metro ( Sto. Domingo station or Callao station ).
- A stroll to the famous Puerta del Sol and El Corte Ingles.
- Tons of comida rapida (fast food) chains, high-end restos, cool tapas and bars.

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During the day,
the street is quiet,
shops are still closed,
delivery trucks are parked,
and maybe, just maybe,
you'd be lucky to stumble a reporter from a news channel in RTVE.
I don't know her name but I'm sure she's one of the reporters from Comando Actualidad.
It's one of the best informative / documentary series that I look forward to if you want to learn more about Spain.

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The iconic Cines Callao should be your topic marker,
also there's a nice Schweppes edifice opposite to it.
I'm not sure of its name, so I wish they will not change this ad-sign for awhile.
We seriously wished we had more days to spend,
surely, I miss Madrid in a heartbeat.

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note: this post has been in my draft list for awhile now and every time I would start a paragraph,
I couldn't move on to the next.
That's how it is when you stop blogging,
my mind isn't cooperating...tsk,tsk.. :(

Monday, July 15, 2013

" a street called Kurstraße "

After quite a long hiatus from blogging... I'm finally back! ^0^
truth is, I was here all along, but couldn't get out of from my "real" life!
work wise that is,
it's draining the life out of me!

I was watching a film called Passion the other day, directed by one of my fave directors Brian de Palma,
and there was this particular scene that caught my eye and made me do rewind more than a dozen times.

The film = shot in Berlin, is a thriller + murder whodunit that will leave you guessing till the end.
I know, no spoilers for this one but a definite watch for those who love suspense and a bit of Catfight.

screenshots from the movie:
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street sign
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One of the scenes from the movie was shot in this street called Kurstraße,
I knew it looks familiar but I couldn't put two and two together till I did some reviewing with my photos
and was sure this was it.

see that arch shaped structure?!

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Now you must be wondering why I keep babbling about this street which looks plain boring!!
well, it's because my sister and I have been looking at this same view (from our hotel) the last time we where there.
and I remember whining about it, because the room was in the corner of nowhere, with a long,unending hallway,
and not facing the main street, which was what we clearly requested when we booked.
in fact, it's also the first street we explored on foot because it was the nearest route to the subway station.
(the Hausvogteiplatz)

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View: the arcotel johnf is on the right side
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At first, I must admit that it's not eye catching at all,
apart from a row of houses,
there are no landmarks, monuments or anything,
it's the back of the hotel and beside Auswaertiges amt, which is a federal office,
that can also mean, lots of cctv and tight security.
it's clearly an off the beaten path.

View: the federal office. Auswaertiges amt
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but like any wandering tourist, I was also worried if the place gets sketchy at night,
on our way back, that's around 8-ish in the evening,
the paralleled streets were literally so quiet you wouldn't dare shout or talk in your normal voice,
it will echo back, because no one's in sight,
not a single shadow, not even a whisper.
but don't get me wrong!
it's not an eerie place.

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it's a nice neighborhood actually, ♥ ♥
clearly catering to the mid-upper class level,
we took sometime to look at every structure and its architectural design.
and had some oohs' and aahs' as well..
thinking, if only we live in this environs,
where safety doesn't seem to be an issue and the neighbors are civilized,
a pure contrast to where I'm situated right now.

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again, the setting for the Movie - Passion , its exact house : below
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it finally snowed on the last day,
the view from our room.

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a pity we didn't take much photos as expected,
but we did some doodling on the last day of our trip.
that's how cheesy we both were. ^0^

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

" A slice of Berlin "

It's official!
i'm slackening with posts and insights to share.
these days, the thought of browsing through photos and in need to sort them is a chore,
it's making me feel lethargic.
My drive seems to be fading and the fuel for words are nothing but a blank stare at my screen.

Thankfully though,
the long weekend last week, had me re-charged and helped unwind my preoccupied mind.

A slice of Berlin was the first stop of our Euro trip last winter.
(still can't believe it's been months already)
To be honest,
I wasn't as ecstatic to visit as I was to see Rome or Madrid.
But boy, was I wrong.

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you see, I've already been there (last 2002) and yet have no clear recollection about this trip,
rather than, it was with a bunch of hungry tourists off to see the other side of the world.
I somehow can't picture myself in front of Brandenburg Gate, standing outside of the Reichstag,
or simply walking along Unter den Linden.

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In short, everything was a vague.
et alors, I did have doubts as to whether I'd enjoy Berlin pour le deuxième fois.

I have to thank my dear sister Pepperoni, who persuaded me to check it out again.
she said, this time, there would be no pesky tourists,
no need to hurry for the first seat inside the tour bus,
no tour guides waving their hands where to direct us
and no time constraints,
( the thing I detest the most while traveling. )
now we do Berlin at our own pace and in our own time.

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so what do we think ?!

Berlin is a city filled with much history and interesting stories both sad and telling.
It used to be divided into two, the west and east side,
although nowadays, you'd hardly notice it.
The weather especially in December is pretty cold, a bit chilly and mostly misty.

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Berliners aren't the most friendly or least bit hospitable,
but they're not rude or disobliging either.
It's just the way they are.
Majority of them understands English and would help you in case you're lost and need of directions.
It pays to know a bit or two about their language.
For example, the menu doesn't only consist of Currywurst,

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you ought to try something other than that.
Words like ausgang (entrance) and eingang (exit) directs you in and out of the Metro.

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and each metro stop surprises you with an unpronounceable name like this one.

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read as Haus-Vog-Tei-Platz. (see, I told you it's hard to pronounce. ^0^)
This is the nearest stop to and from our hotel.

The city is divided into areas like the Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte, Kreuzberg, Charlottenburg etc.
We chose the Mitte area, we thought it was more convenient at that time,
since it's close to the Museum Island and to almost everything.

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The city is huge!
so to get from here to there.
you need to take the local bus, rent a bike, convenient Taxis or simply take the Metro.
they have one of the most comprehensive and accessible transportation btw.

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inside the taxi, which is a posh Mercedes-Benz btw

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and the taxi tariff

If you're a museum aficionado or just plain curious about paintings and artifacts.
Do: check out the days where you can get inside for ~Free. (usually during 6 pm onwards)
If you're traveling for the first time however and time is a battle,
you can buy the Berlin Welcome Card ( which includes unlimited Metro ride + 1 Museum Visit ) or an all Museum Pass Card.
Check out this link here, this is one of the most helpful sites so far...
Berlin. De

Inside the museum, photo taking isn't prohibited except for Flash photos.
so you can take all the pictures you want, and i mean A-L-L.

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museum's facade

yeah, feast on it!
No one, not even the security will stop you from doing it.
so better have your batteries charged and your camera(s) ready. ^0^

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Night time, as in most European countries isn't as lively and cheerful compared to some Asian countries.
But it does have the best Christmas theme street markets every December.

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This is the first time I've been to one of these German Markets and
though, It seems to be a bit generic,
I am still fascinated by it, from the food to the nice handicrafts.

So, there you go, my second impression this time made it more memorable.
I hope this helps the next time you wish to visit the city.

* where was this *
berlin, germany