Berlin I Love You So

Last Friday night, Alex and I set of to Kreuzberg in Berlin for a long weekend. No laptop. No time for planning and four whole days off from work. BLISS.  A good friend of ours has lived there for five years, but rather typically had skipped the country to DJ elsewhere on the only weekend we could get there… There went our tour guide! Luckily for us, he had the time to give us some top tips over iMessage and we were pretty loaded up with apps for the area. Gotta love technology. I think this was the first time that I had ever left my laptop at home, so I truly did no work at all, but apps on phones are definitely a must when we travel these days.

We were pretty lucky with the weather, which was perfect for all the walking that we did. Berlin is a city of bikes, but I’m lazy I prefer a stroll, so we covered a lot of the city on foot… Obviously rewarding ourselves with plenty of great food stops on the way. Although we visited the major tourist attractions, Berlin certainly had a lot more to offer us after dark and once we had got the lay of the land, I really fell in love with the vibe of the city.

We walked the streets to see the Festival of Lights one evening and yes, I’m just going to come right out and say that it was one of the most underwhelming light shows I’ve ever seen! It’s pretty hyped online, but boo hiss to that. OK, so it does take quite a lot to impress me and I do live in London, so maybe don’t write it off if you are visiting next year. I’m well known for being hard to please and wouldn’t want to say you definitely shouldn’t take a look.

On Sunday night, we found ourselves on the guest-list for Free Spirits at The Prince Charles. Four Tet, Gilles Peterson, Floating Points and Alex Barck (Jazzanova) were all on the line-up. Alex was there for the live Jazz and I was there for the DJs after, which resulted in a pretty good night, leaving us with a tad bit of a hangover the next day. If I’m at home with a hangover I usually refuse to leave the house and simply curl up and die on the sofa, but there was no way i was missing out on Berlin, so I dragged my butt out and we went to re-fuel with delicious bargain value rotisserie chicken at Das Huhnerhaus, drank delicious vegan juice from Goodies and continued to knacker ourselves out by roaming the streets.

There’s so much more I could tell you about Berlin, but you really should get online and book yourself a ticket to go and see it for yourself. Perhaps go after the winter though as I hear it gets pretty nippy. We’ll definitely be going again and hopefully we’ll have the time and money to add it to our annual trip list. Next time we’ll make sure our friend is there! Useless.

 

Holocaust Memorial   Berlin Art Lunch at WestBerlin   Berlin NeighboursGluten Free Katies Blue Cat    Horace Tapscott Tribute  Musashi Berlin   Berlin I love you so

Berlin I Love You So.

Our Weekend in Devon

After a long weekend in Devon, I’ve definitely got the Tuesday blues and a great deal of work to catch up on. We’re regular visitors to the South West, as I went to school there (many moons ago) and Alex’s gran lives in Plymouth. It’s certainly not a place that I could see myself living, but I love our breaks away by the sea.

Betsy the Chihuahua joined us for the first time and Fat Cat had his own little break away (from the hyperactive pup), at the in-laws. Packing up the car with all the puppy gear and stopping off for puppy wee breaks made things all a little more time consuming, but going for walks with her made things a whole lot more sociable, with endless chatter from other dog owners. I’m slowly getting use to talking to randoms on walks, but I’m still not totally into it!

I don’t know about you, but when we go away, choosing somewhere to eat is always a pretty long process with a lot to choose from and plenty of indecision. However, now we have a dog, things are slightly more complicated… For a nation of dog lovers, there aren’t many places that one can stuff ones face with a four-legged friend in tow! For this trip to Devon, I made full use of a fantastic app called Doggie Pubs – You simply press a button and the app finds all the pubs in the surrounding area that welcome dogs along with their owners. Easy. You can also type in the name of an area anywhere in the UK if you want to make plans in advance. We used the app three times over the weekend and never failed to get some pretty impressive pub grub and much puppy love from the bar staff. A fabulous addition to my phone, that I will now not be able to live without – In fact, I could have done with this when I was without dog!

Devon. We ate. We walked. We ate some more.

Delicious Fresh Crab Salad at The Cary Arms

Clotted cream ice Cream. Naturally.

Betsy Loved her first trip to the beach, however small dog equals BIG mess!

A far cry from Narnia, but worth a shot anyway.

Babbacombe

Our Paris Trip

I’ve seem to have lost my blogging mojo recently… I’m mostly going to blame the puppy. Betsy likes to wake up a lot earlier than I’m used to and it’s resulting in a  lot of lethargic Zoe days. I seem to be spending a great deal of my time running around and playing with her in an attempt to tire her out, as she still isn’t allowed out of the house. She has been pretty well behaved and has slept through every night except for the very first. I mustn’t grumble – But you know me!

Anyway, time for a quick Paris update. It feels like an age since we were there, but it was only a week and a half ago that we returned. We hadn’t planned to go away this summer as we went to San Fran in April, but I was itching for a break and decided to contact the couple that we had house swapped with a few years ago. They were fully up for it, which made the trip cheap and cheerful for us. Well, when I say cheap and cheerful we did have one indulgent day where we went for the most delicious lunch at the Le Relais Louis XIII – A 2 Michelin-starred French restaurant, which I’ll tell you more about in another post.

Paris was as lovely as ever; however, a lot of shops close over the summer and we did find that we were sometimes shut out of places we would have loved to have spent some time in. We were aware that this would be the case before we left, however, and simply spent a lot of time soaking up the atmosphere on the streets, drinking at many of the cafes and doing a great deal of people watching. We did plenty of walking and plenty more eating, and the weather held out for us most of the time. What is with this summer eh?!

It was great to get away and I’m hoping that our Paris swapping buddies will now be prepared to swap for many years to come!

These guys were amazing! We saw them pop up a few times during our trip – Check out the keyboard player!

We sat at a popular cafe/bar in Oberkampf for hours after a long day of walking and this was being finished whilst we drank copious amounts of wine. I can’t for the life of me remember the name, but it served the most amazing Pizza!

Holiday Shopping A La Zoe

Whenever I go away on holiday, I never really get my hopes up when it comes to holiday shopping. I’m happy to walk around and browse for days on end, but I don’t expect to find things that actually fit me. I tend not to find much that I like or items that I haven’t seen in London or online. We are pretty spoilt for choice here and I don’t think there are many places that compare.

San Francisco prides itself on it’s independent stores and we found a few lovely boutiques, plenty of vintage shops and on top of that lots of MASSIVE drugstores. I found there was extremely little in the way of clothing stores that suited me – Boutique stores worldwide tend to sell things in sizes that are slightly to big for vertically challenged people like myself anyway. They can also be a bit pricey.

I was very surprised to find a lovely independent boutique called Ambiance, just around the corner from where we were staying in Haight. It was full to the brim with wonderful brightly coloured clothes, jewellery, bags and shoes. As soon as we hit the floor Alex decided it was his time to hit Starbucks… He knew I’d be there for a while!

I ended up buying two dresses in the end. Both were about $50 each ( Around £3o)

What do you think?…

Other holiday purchases included…
This sheer top from Nordstrom Around $35 / £21 (I think)
(Not a great picture – It looks a lot nicer on)

We spent a heck of a lot of time in Anthropologie – I’ve never actually been to any of their stores here in the UK, but have heard many good things. This candle was about the only thing we liked that would not to too much of a hassle to get back home. Unfortunately, we forgot to blow it out the other night and it’s already pretty much gone.. The room smelt awesome though – I’m sure Jim the fish enjoyed it while we were sleeping!

Need I say more…

Crap – Everyone has Crap to do and buy. I’m a huge fan of these notepads.
They come with all sorts of messages and in all sizes. This was our final purchase in San Fran. It was pouring with rain and we were trying to kill time before heading to the airport.

Where in the world do you like to shop other than your own country?

x

San Francisco Trip

So, I’m back from San Francisco. We shopped, ate and walked our way around the city for a few weeks and I have returned with an empty purse – As expected. San Francisco isn’t cheap and I’d mainly blame this on their craving for all things organic. Something to be proud of, but it certainly doesn’t help out your average tourists bank balance!

We had a fantastic break, but I didn’t really bond with the city. As pretty (and clean) as it is, I certainly struggled to figure it out. The guide book promised me that the town would give me ‘one hell of a ride’, but I clearly came away wondering where the entrance to that ride was. Bear in mind that this is also the guide book that told us under no circumstance should you drive, due to the lack of parking in the city. We drove everywhere, had not an ounce of trouble parking and honestly found a car extremely useful due to the layout of the land and the way the shops were so sparsely laid out.

The reason we went there was quite a few people had said that we’d love it. I had high hopes, but it took us quite some time to find the best bits. We don’t like to do the normal tourist attractions and we found it quite hard to find things to do outside walking, biking and eating.

We generally like to wander around a city when we visit, to get a feel for the local life and not be surrounded by the hoards of other tourists… Our extremely brief visit to Pier 39 was bloody awful! Why do people like to go to the same place and eat with loads of other tourists in the same spot? I just don’t get it.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of good bits to San Francisco and we did have a lovely time… Every meal we ate out was delicious, the people were charming, and we found the best ice cream bar ever, right around the corner from one of the places we stayed in.

During our trip, we visited LA for a few days. It really wasn’t enough time, as we didn’t get a chance to see anyone that we had intended on meeting up with. The drive back from LA to San Fran (via the Big Sur) was awesome. Some pretty spectacular scenery and luckily some decent weather to go with it.

So all in all. It was nice. I think I was just demanding more because this was one of our most expensive trips ever – We’ve been to some pretty good places. I don’t think we’ll go back to San Fran for some time and I wouldn’t put it high on my best places in the world to go, but if you are passing do stop in for an ice cream and a chat with the locals. It’s might be more for you than it was for me.

The Big Sur scenery

17 Mile Drive Montery

17 Mile Drive Montery

The obligatory bridge shot.
We were lucky enough to find a secluded section below the tourist vista point.

Off the Grid Food trucks – Some fabulous food was eaten!

You MUST go to this place. That is all.

Wind playing havoc with this shot

American sizes on a small English lad!

Redwood Trees – Muir woods

Alex got to do this after a Living Social voucher drama. Segway around Golden Gate Park
Probably a lucky escape for me ;)