Here you go, Hamburg, Copenhagen, & Amsterdam! London update to follow soon...November 30th, Hamburg
Woke up Thursday morning in, packed up, checked out of the Heart of Gold Hostel, and went to the train station to get a ticket to Copenhagen. Turned out I had to switch trains in Hamburg, and while there wasn't a train from Hamburg until that evening, trains left for Hamburg every hour. Soooo, not needing the extra day in Berlin I rushed over to the platform and hopped on a train to Hamburg.
Spent about half a day there, wondering around. There was a great Christmas market, fun streets...and this amazing church that was bombed during WWII and was left standing, just a hollow shell, as a memorial to war. Cool to see, and great views from the top.November 30th-December 4th, Copenhagen
Highlight of my train to Copenhagen? Had to be when the train drove onto a ferry. No joke, same as all the cars and busses that just drive right on, so did our train. It was so odd, had to call Mom and let her know... "Mom? Guess where my train is now. On a ferry. No really, the whole train just drove on the ferry... I'm serious!"
Got there, first glance of Tivoli, and met a crazy women on the bus to my hostel who thought my backpack was a baby. "Are you okay?
Me: "Uh, yeah..."
Her: "But is that your baby? Is your baby okay?"
Me: "Uh, it's a backpack..."
Her: "No it's a baby, right?"
Found a hostel, booked for the night but was told they were full for the weekend so I'd have to change in the morning. No worries, wasn't a huge fan of the three bed high bunk beds anyway. Easily found a new one the next morning, which was also slightly sketchy, but amazing location so I dealt with it.
Attempted to find out what time services were, couldn't, which continued my frustration with shuls in Europe, and just explored the city. Then a couple hours before Shabbas started I happened to walk into a 7-Eleven and saw a young man in a kippa. "Excuse me, do you know what time services are tonight?"
Turns out he was the Rabbi, so yes, he knew. And he told me that they were doing a special Carlebach service and dinner that evening after the regular services at his place. Amazing!
Friday night was awesome. People were so great, so much ruach
, spirit, during the service, the Rabbi and his wife and their kids were so sweet...It was the hospitality I'd been lacking the rest of my trip, that I was craving. Saturday morning I went to services in the main shul, a gorgeous awe-inspiring building, although the service was a bit too...well, choirs aren't really my thing. Then a few of us walked over to Chabad for lunch. Turns out the Rebetzin was from Pittsburgh, was friends with my cousin Esti. Gotta love Jewish geography.
Saturday night hung out with Daniel
, this guy I met at Shabbas dinner. Have any of you ever played Guitar Hero
? I swear, it must be the most fun game ever
. So we played that, went to a couple bars, great night...
Sunday I went to the train station, attempting to get a reservation for the night train to Amsterdam...but unfortunately, the next night train wasn't until Dec 16th. What?
Stupid timetable...Worked out, though. Meant I got more time in Copenhagen. It's a great city. Awesome people, beautiful, crazy bike lanes (they have their own street lights for the bikes! Little red/green bicycles...). Daniel gave me a great tour, really nice to be in a car, lol... Highlights had to be the little mermaid, and changing of the guard...
Copenhagen hadn't been on my list of places to go, but back in the planning stages Ricky had recommended it... So thanx! I loved it!December 4th-11th, AmsterdamNeed to get to bed so this can't be so detailed...sorry...
Got in late Monday night after a long
train ride. Peter, and Mike & Dan (the guys I met in Berlin) were all staying at The Flying Pig
, the hostel everyone recommends, and I had even tried booking in advance (first time all trip), but they were full. No worries... I stopped by, met up with Peter, and then found my own hostel. Stayed at this random place the first half of my time there, nothing special, but chilled at the pig a bunch. Ran into Mike & Dan my first night as well, so got to chill with them as well as Peter. Once the boys left (Mike & Dan on Wed, Peter on Thursday) I switched over to Bob's Youth Hostel
. Fun place, met some awesome people there....Ivan, the Canadian guy, Kyle, the Aussie, Nick, from New Mexico, Laurel, also from the States...
Did another one of the NewEurope free walking tours, the NewAmsterdam tour. Not as good as Munich and Berlin, but that was probably partly do to the never ending barrage of rain...
Highlights of Amsterdam: Just walking around and chilling with some awesome people, checking out the crazy "window shopping" in the Red Light District, museums... The Van Goh Museum was amazing, had some awesome exhibits and amazing paintings, spent ages there. Also went to Madame Troussad's Wax Museum, a couple movies, Cannabis College, the Sex Museum...some crazy stuff!
Here's the end of Prague and Berlin... Hamburg, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and London to follow, when I'm not quite so tired...November 25th-26th, Prague
The end of Prague was great. Sat night went with Brian & Sam to this amazing little hole-in-the-wall jazz club, and then this massive dance club with crazy electronic music and awesome lights. Decorated like you were inside a machine...Totally trippy. Sunday morning the three of us dragged ourselves out of bed after nowhere near enough sleep and walked over to check out the Jewish quarter. Brian left to catch his train, and Sam & I had lunch at this adorable little Kosher cafe, run by Chabad. Then I left as well, off to Berlin...November 26th-30th, Berlin
Sunday I trained over to Berlin and found my way to a hostel I had read about, The Heart of Gold
. So I had read about this hostel while I was back in the States, planning my trip, and being the amazingly wonderful (possibly slightly dorky...) girl that I am, it was enough to make me wish I was going to Berlin. So when I actually ended up going to Berlin, I obviously had to stay there. :) It's this hostel inspired by Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" which is my favorite book of all time. awesome
As I was checking in to the hostel (which btw, if you arrive on a Sunday it's half off your first night. How awesome is that
?) who should walk in but John! (refresher: Aussie I met in Interlaken...ran into at Dachou...
) So ended up chilling with him for a bunch of the time I was in Berlin, in addition to some awesome other people I met, specifically these American guys, Mike & Dan (remember their names...chilled with them in Amsterdam too...) Peter was in Krakow, but he finally came to Berlin on Wednesday and joined us at the hostel.
Did a free walking tour with NewBerlin
, part of the NewEurope
company that did my tour in Munich. Another awesome tour, really got to see tons and information that I just wouldn't have gotten walking around on my own. Went on their Pub Crawl too, too many nights for me to admit...but tons of fun.
Let's see, what else did I do in Berlin...Saw the Neue Synagogue, gorgeous building that houses a museum now. Wanted to daven Mincha while I was there, but I wasn't allowed into the sanctuary (it's only open Friday nights for services) so I pulled out my handy dandy Mincha/Maariv card (thank you Danie Barak, from 4 million years ago...wow
) and just davened in the museum. Interesting... Walked around tons, decent weather while I was there, chilling with cool people...OH!!!
Almost forgot to write about the craziest, trippiest thing I've (probably) ever done in my life! This was the other thing (besides the Heart of Gold) that made me wish I was going to Berlin while I was still in my apartment in Chi-town... Dunkel Restaurant. "What?"
you're probably thinking, "That's it? An f-ing restaurant? I was expecting something good!"
Ye of little faith... Dunkel restaurant is not just any restaurant. In their words, it's an "Unsicht Bar." Here's the link
I know you were waiting for, so you can see for yourself the amazingness of this place, or you can just chill out and wait for me to explain...
Okay, so here's what happens. (sidenote: every time you hear "okay, so here's..." in your head are you thinking "hokay"? As in from the amazing cartoon "End of The World"? Because I do...
) You get to the restaurant, look at a menu, and order your food. Easy enough, right? Ah, but that's just the beginning. After you've ordered, your waiter comes to physically lead you to your table in the main room of the restaurant. Abut unnecessary you ask? Ah, but see that's the catch. It's actually completely
necessary. Because the main room of the restaurant is pitch black. That's right, no light at all. We're talking "blink and there's absolutely no light at all think you might have gone blind" dark. It was truly one of the more amazing things I've done in my life. And the food was really good, too.
I went by myself, thinking that it would be the perfect time to have some quality "shosh time." Then I was sitting there, alone, in the pitch black, not entirely sure what I was putting in my mouth, listening to everyone around me chatting away in German...at first it was okay, amazing to experience. Then my brain started racing and I realized I had no idea how long I had been sitting there and my heart started pounding and I started to feel nauseous...sat there focusing on my breathing until my waitress came over and I got her to lead me out... Pretty sure it was a panic attack. Not quite as sure about what it means to have a panic attack when I'm left alone with my thoughts... At least now I have an answer to the "would you rather be blind or deaf?"
question that always gets asked along with "what super power would you want to have?"
(flying, obviously). Really glad I went, if you ever have a chance...
So in all, Berlin was good fun. Saw some things, met some people, good times...
Wow, been so long since I've posted...sorry about that. So first I'll give you the 2 seconds version, then I'll start filling in details. After Prague, went to Berlin for about 4 days, then Hamburg for the day, Copenhagen for the weekend, now I'm in Amsterdam, leaving Sunday for London...