Kreuzberg which is a very alternative area, with lots of street art, unique people, funky bars, cute boutiques and eateries... this definitely made the trip for me.
It has lots of quirky people, and anything-goes fashion. People watching is a lot of fun.
Vintage is huge, as is handmade fashion. I had a lot of fun at the flea market and bought some really cool things.
I did a graffiti tour which was fantastic. The guide showed us lots of street art, explained its origins and about the artists and rivalries. He also showed us some unusual bars/clubs/pubs and other cool spots around the city.
There is so much night life, and an option for every taste. I can't imagine ever getting bored, and you can start your night at 8pm or 4am, depending on your mood.
I did a free Berlin city tour, and our guide was very passionate and interesting. The city has a fascinating Jewish history. It has some amazing old buildings and a very interesting Holocaust memorial. I didn't expect it to be so pretty...
East Side Gallery (that long wall covered in famous paintings) is a lot of fun and there are some great photo opportunities.
While I was there, there was a sand sculpture competition on opposite the East Side Gallery and it had huge but intricate sand sculptures, which were amazing. It's called Sandsation and is hosted there annually.
Food is cheap and delicious. I ate the most amazing falafel I have ever tasted - it is Sudanese style from a place called Nil. You have not tried falafel until you have tasted this, have it with the cheese. Amazing. I also had a fantastic Indian meal, with cheap and delicious cocktails... and if I had done my research instead of just walking around to find a place, there are some really unique places I'd love to have tried.
There is so much to do - I spent about 4 nights there and it wasn't long enough. I could have filled 2 weeks. Or hey, I wouldn't mind living there!
That famous painting...
Mega sand sculpture #1
Real sand sculpture #2
Random street art - knitted bike rack cover
More random street art. These flags appeared one day, and no one is sure why, or when they will disappear.
I finally got around to watching this movie on my recent Perth-Canberra flight. If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend it.
It's quite a light, heart warming movie which ends with an overall positive message. The storyline does center around some potentially upsetting and heavy themes (the black/white divide and the treatment of the "negros" in 1960s Mississippi), but it is beautifully executed in a way that focuses on the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
I felt inspired and uplifted at the end of it, yet it also evoked some tears - which is how I like to feel after a movie!
I loved all of the characters - even those that had less than desirable traits were sufficiently accessible so that I could associate with them, or associate them with someone in my life.
Another reason that this is my ideal kind of movie is that it showcases gorgeous 1960s fashion at its most feminine, and more importantly, feminine 1950s Southern American interior design.
There are retro kitchens complete with cabinets painted in pretty pastels (and visible retro crockery), checked lino floors, dainty wallpaper and lino tables:
Some of my favourite living areas include chandeliars, dark wooden orante Italian style furniture, patterned feature armchairs and occassional chairs (including button back and semi egg-shaped) and multi-picture walls:
I am not a fan of all 60s decor. I like the embroidered cushions and non matching sofa and armchairs in this den, but timber wall paneling and faux brick tiling goes a little far for my liking:
And finally, I cannot call myself a 1960s aficionado in the purest sense because I detest all-pink bathrooms and super gaudy wallpaper:
Nonetheless, I'd employ the set designers as my interior decorators any day!
If you want an uplifting movie with an overwhelmingly positive message, or if you want to swoon over 1960s fashion and decor, you should definitely see The Help. If you love all three elements, you'll be in heaven (I was!).
As you read this, I will be on my long journey to Beijing (北京). It includes a 3.5 hour bus ride from Canberra to Sydney, 3 hours at Sydney airport (to allow for any traffic delays) and a 13 hour direct flight to Beijing (which should pass quickly, I plan to sleep with the aid of sleeping tablets. Thank you modern medicine).
Thanks to Blogger's 'pre-schedule' function, I will still be posting a little during my 10 day absence, albeit as an absentee.
To say I'm happy about missing a week of forecasted rain in Canberra, for a much sunnier Beijing is an understatement :)
One of the best things about this trip is the group of us who are traveling together. We're all very different, and a great mix of personalities. Our group:
Myself. Female, well traveled, organised, good at planning but terrible at navigating, pushy and decisive. Most looking forward to shopping and sight seeing.
Member #2. Female, well traveled, speaks fluent mandarin (she is therefore our most valuable group member), easy-going, quiet, timid. Most looking forward to eating and sight seeing.
Member #3. Female, limited travel, a "princess" who doesn't like dirt, fussy eater, loves to party. Most looking forward to shopping and eating/drinking.
Member #4. Male, first time overseas, is stressed/worried about small details, very absent-minded, unresourceful, quirky, Chinese in appearance but speaks no mandarin. Most looking forward to "I don't know. What?"
As you can see, we're in for a wild ride. We are all colleagues at work, and our other colleagues can't wait to hear the stories about our encounters together. There have been many quips about such things as "Four of you are going, but three will return", "Take photos if member #4 ends up in hospital", "How are your group members going with preparations? What about member #4?", "Make sure member #4 doesn't get arrested", "Make sure you look after member #4, don't loose him" and "I can't believe you're going with member #4".
We divvied up responsibilities:
Myself: planning/organisation. Printed out tips and recommendations of where to go, how to get there etc and maps. Chose and booked flights, buses, hotel.
Member #2: Official translator and interpreter.
Member #3: Responsible for researching and mapping out shopping locations and bar locations. Proved to be reliable, and also took over Member #2's initially assigned job of researching places to eat.
Member #4: We struggled with this one, and settled on 'source of entertainment'.
Random facts about Beijing:
On an average day, the air pollution levels in Beijing are nearly five times above World Health Organization standards for safety.
There are lots of Mr and Mrs Wangs. According to the city’s official census in 2006, themost common surname in Beijing is Wang, a name shared by 10.35% of the population.
The city is considered to be a bicycle capital of the world, with entire parking lots dedicated to bikes alone.
Beijing Airport is the 2nd busiest in the world, and the busiest in Asia.
The Beijing Olympics were the most expensive in history; they are estimated to have cost 40 billion dollars.
The Subway is notoriously crowded, you may feel like a human sandwich inside and you may have to line up to get on.
Tiananmen Square is the largest public plaza in the world.
I have been browsing Zara China & H&M China online.... and the Zara collection is really exciting me. It has many high street versions of styles a la Stella McCartney and Mary Katrantzou (2 of my favourite collections - so bright and happy with lots of photographic prints):
My friend bought me this homemade vintage dress from an op shop- she knows my style. It has always been too big for me but now is a lifesaver as I struggle to squeeze into much of my clothing.
That's right, I don't fit into most of my clothes anymore, serious exercise and healthy eating are desperately needed. I refuse to buy any bigger clothing - it could just snowball if I did that.
I am applying for jobs in Perth. The big move "home" is imminent, likely 2-3 months away.
I am checking realestate.com.au for Perth rentals and also keeping my eye on properties for sale. I need to work out a budget with various permutations dependent on my salary, keeping in mind that I might have to take a pay cut to find a job that I'll enjoy and benefit from.
During Easter and my Perth visit, I took home 2 massive suitcases full of stuff from Canberra. My childhood bedroom floor looked like this:
Various online purchases have arrived. These shoes from Brands Exclusive are my new favourites (they fit, which is always a risk!), and I was impressed with everything in my latest Asos order too (cardi is pictured):
My trip to Beijing is a mere 5 days away. I am excited! There is an H&M in Beijing, and there are tailors and markets and shopping malls... *salivates*
Random musing: I think every bathroom needs a sign, and this one sold at Wild Gifts made me smile (although I wouldn't choose it personally, a bit crass for my household):
How exciting, I can now report that I have a new cafe to add to my list of brunch favourites in Canberra. Ona Cafe in Manuka is a laid back cafe located in the grassed terrace area (diagonally opposite Urban Pantry). It's great because the kids can run around on the grass while you enjoy a mostly uninterrupted meal.
Picnic rugs and milk crates to sit on- very Melbourne, no?
My breakfast - homemade baked beans and fried eggs on toast.
Menu variety / creativity: 7.5/10. A wide range of savoury options. Less sweet options but they do have quite a unique sounding rice pudding which is apparently very popular.
Taste: 7.5/10. The beans were nice, with a smoky BBQ flavour. I liked how they came with fried eggs, a good combination.
Coffee: 8/10. A good brew, and lots of options for coffees made in different ways. Serving was a tiny but too small for my liking, I’d order a bigger mug next time.
Setting / location: 8/10. A lovely casual setting with space for the kids to run around outside. I don’t think it would be very nice on a rainy day though – the inside is very small, and somewhat dark.
Service: 8/10. Friendly and efficient, always a nice surprise in Canberra.
Price: 7.5/10. Average for Canberra, you’re looking at $15-$22 for a breakfast and around $3.50 for a small coffee.
Books ($1 each), Russian hand painted bowl ($1) and a cute porcelain duck ($1)
I love this style of painted bowls / servers etc. I would have bought lots in Poland when I was there, but big bowls are not the easiest things to pack and carry around when you're backpacking. I know that this type of artwork is typical of Russia and Poland, and perhaps other neighbouring countries?
I'm not sure what attracted me to the little duck, she is just so cute and serene.
Natasha silk top ($1) and Bang skirt ($28, from the 2nd hand designer clothes boutique at Piallago Plant Farm - Yes, I always manage to find a 2nd hand shop, even when I am supposed to be going somewhere only to have brunch!)
Bright floral t-shirt with beading ($1). I can imagine wearing this on the beach :-)
Easter is great for 2 reasons: the chocolate, and the super long weekend. Jesus would approve - it's a fitting way to celebrate his resurrection. My last blog post about Passover and Jewish traditions got me thinking about chocolate, eggs, and bunnies.
No one is really sure where the easter bunny came from. Easter occurs in Spring, and rabbits are symbols of fertility and new life (evoking the resurrection perhaps). Eggs are likewise a symbol of new life, and can be rolled like the rolling of the stone away from Jesus's tomb. There are various other legends which provide colourful explanations for these traditions.
There appears to be no exciting explanation for why we make eggs and bunnies out of chocolate. We don't really need an explanation though, do we? It's simple enough to me that people love chocolate, and any excuse to eat it is a good one, whether there is a logical explanation or not!
My Easter in photos:
Easter gifts for friends
Freshly baked homemade hot cross buns
Super easy and cute chocolate crackles with eggs and chicks - a real hit with the kids, and so little effort. My kind of contribution ;-)
Bunny cupcakes - so cute!
Our Sunday lunch was a little under-whelming. The host is known for picking very complicated recipes from cookbooks and excuting them with varied results. Unfortunately this time around she messed up both main course and dessert, and spent the whole meal apologising. I'm certainly not complaining - I'm more than happy to eat whatever is put infront of me if someone else cooks it (LOL).
I hope you all had a lovely long weekend and are refreshed for work tomorrow. I still have another 2 days off in Perth with family, it's blissful!
Coming from a multi-religious and multi-cultural family has many perks. There are the different types of food, the different customs, festivals and traditions. Passover (or Pesach) is a Jewish festival which commemorates the freedom from slavery of the Jews from the Egyptians. At a Passover 'Seder' (seder literally means 'order'), this story is retold around the dinner table with various symbols and traditions playing a big role in the festivities.
Some of the symbols/traditions are as follows...
#1 The Seder plate
This contains bitter herbs (symbolising the bitterness of slavery), charoset (a sweet mixture of apple and nuts, which symbolises the mortar used by the slaves), another green vegetable (dipped in salt water, which represents tears), zeroah (a piece of meat, symbolising the Passover sacrifice that was made at the ancient temple) and a hard boiled egg (symbolising another sacrifice, and also mourning).
This large cracker like snack is delicious with charoset (see above). It commemorates the haste with which the Jews fled Egypt, they did not have time for their bread to rise and so took with them unleavened bread.
#3 The Haggadah
This is the book containing the order of the festivities, through which the story of Passover is retold. It also contains traditional songs which are sung by the guests.
#4 A giant feast
Because when do the Jews not put on a huge spread!?
There are various other traditions which we partake in on the night, including drinking 4 cups of wine (we use mini wine goblets, otherwise it would get messy), hiding a piece of matzah for the kids to find (the winner, or usually all of the kids get a prize for finding it) and a special song to be sung by the youngest child(ren).
I have wonderful memories of Passover seders from my childhood, and I continue to love the closeness and tradition that is evoked every year during this festival in our household.
Cute pink heels and my 2 minute manicure - you can't tell from afar ;-)
To come in the next blog post - Easter celebrations!
Happy Easter everyone! I hope you're all having a lovely start to the weekend. I spent the morning in bed with a migraine but am feeling a lot better now, and am enjoying pottering around my parents' house in Perth.
Regarding the title - Yes I did. In addition to my Asos order of a few days ago, I just made another large order at Dorothy Perkins. In my defence, they do have free international shipping for 2 days only when you spent 40 pounds. And further in my defence, I only spent 56 pounds and this got me all of the following:
2 dresses, 2 pairs of tights, beaded necklace
3 blouses (my favourite being the beaded one at the front - Uttam does some really funky pieces)!
If I had to pick a favourite collection out of the Spring 2012 RTW lot, it would have to be Dries Van Noten:
I love the colour matching and the photo prints.
Photographic prints are so unique and eye catching, I have got to get my hand on a piece or two. Mary Katrantzou andPedro Lourenco are the stand out designers whose pieces from previous seasons I would love to get my hands on. Some of their designs are featured here:
Pedro Lourenco parrot tunic? Yes please! Also featuring Stella Macartney, Walter Van Beirendonck, Moschino Cheap & Chic, Valentino & Gap...
Mary Katrantzou has made a huge splash with her designs this season:
And finally, some more affordable high street options: