Berlin

Working for a parcel delivery company makes Christmas a little stressful. Unfortunately retailers and e-commerce seems to have convinced us that everything in this world can be delivered almost instantly. The time between online shopping and delivery is closing all the time. Next day is often just not good enough. you would hope that sometimes common sense would prevail? After all – Christmas has been on the same day every year for quite some time now. If ‘Little Johnny’ really needs that toy for Christmas or the world will end, then how about you spare a thought for how busy every carrier company in the world is at this time of year, how difficult the weather conditions might be (sometimes it snows in Winter and that can make driving in some areas very tricky) and don’t fall for the spin from online retailers who promise you that if you order before midday on the 23rd of December it will be a guaranteed delivery on christmas eve. They lie! They hope, they cross fingers, they take your money without a second thought for reality and they leave it up to the carriers to take the flack.

So, rant over, (for now) with ‘Peak’ rapidly approaching I decided to grab the last opportunity I would have for some time off before Christmas day and use up a few of the day’s holiday I couldn’t take into the new year. Use them or lose them!

The Man did the same and he found a bargain mini break in Berlin. I had never been to Germany and Matt was keen to meet up with a friend that lives there so we booked it. Three days, two nights, a super quick tour, a Christmas market or two and a catch up with old friends.

Berlin

The most obvious thing that comes to mind when thinking of Berlin is The Wall.

On August 13, 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) began to build a barbed wire and concrete “Antifascistischer Schutzwall,” or “antifascist bulwark,” between East and West Berlin. The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to keep Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the aim of stemming mass defections from East to West. The Berlin Wall stood until November 9, 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border when they pleased. That night, ecstatic crowds swarmed the wall. Some crossed freely into West Berlin, while others brought hammers and picks and began to chip away at the wall itself. To this day, the Berlin Wall remains one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the Cold War. (Source – History.com)

If you really want to feel, and think visit the Holocaust Museum and the memorial. We didn’t have time to visit the museum but it’s something I want to do when we go back, and we will be going back. It’s a fascinating City with a rich and emotional history, a public transport system that works perfectly and Christmas markets that will get even a humbug like me in the mood.

Happy Christmas.

 

Advertisements

10 Places in 2014 #2 the Lake District

One of my (not quite) 43 things is to visit 10 places in England before the end of 2014 that I’ve never been to before.

This may be harder than I think. My jobs (s) have taken me all over the country over the last 8 years so I’ve seen a lot of England even if I’ve not had as much time as I would like to appreciate the places I’ve been to and there are a lot of beautiful, fascinating places in this country that I want to see. 10 Places, by the end of 2014 that I’ve never been to before. Photo’s to be posted.

2. The Lake Disctrict 14/07/2014 – 16/07/2014. The Man and I decided to celebrate the 8 year anniversary of our first date with a short break in the Lake District.

We opted for a bit of glamping – staying in a (static) Gypsy Caravan, with Wild In Style at Low Wray Campsite on the edge of Lake Windermere.

Wild In Style Continue reading “10 Places in 2014 #2 the Lake District”

10 Places in 2014 #1 Hay On Wye

One of my (not quite) 43 things is to visit 10 places in England before the end of 2014 that I’ve never been to before.

This may be harder than I think. My jobs (s) have taken me all over the country over the last 8 years so I’ve seen a lot of England even if I’ve not had as much time as I would like to appreciate the places I’ve been to and there are a lot of beautiful, fascinating places in this country that I want to see. 10 Places, by the end of 2014 that I’ve never been to before. Photo’s to be posted.

1. Hay On Wye 01/06/2014. We decided on a day in Hay On Wye, I love just heading away at the last-minute because it just seems like a good idea.

We headed up to Henley-In-Arden on Saturday night to spend the night with my fiancé’s Mum then all three of us set off early on Sunday to drive to Hay On Wye.

She suggested it a while ago and as the Literary Festival was in it’s last day today it seemed like a good opportunity to see a bit of the town and experience the festival. I know she used to visit with her husband, who sadly died, so I think it was a bit of a mixed day for her. Revisiting old haunts and reliving old memories, happy memories but tinged with sadness. It’s a lovely town and we only saw a little of it so it’s definitely going to be on the list for a revisit in the future.

Kindle = Bad

Marrakech

After what seems like an eternity we finally booked a holiday. We haven’t left the country (together) for years and it was well overdue. We thought about a City break, Brussels seemed like a good idea. Nice, clean, safe, English speaking, EU and a bit like home with stronger beer so we settled on Marrakech!

We only went for four days but loved every minute. It’s an assault on every sense, sight, smell, sound and bank balance – I could spend a week just shopping in the Souks. It’s hard to describe the chaos and the fascination that is Marrakech. There was a part of me that was a little nervous every time I stepped out of the hotel. My British reserve hated the onslaught of people selling everything and anything and pushing you to come into their shops, try their food, buy this, buy that but it didn’t take long to realise that a polite ‘No’ was all it took and it’s just business, no one takes rejection personally.

The Main Square – Jemaa el-Fna

 

There are lots of websites and blogs that give advice on the do’s and don’ts of visiting Marrakech and it’s useful to remember a few things if you’re going to visit.

  • If you don’t want to buy or to visit a shop then just say No – don’t engage in conversation, just a polite, raised hand to show you don’t want to, if possible avoid saying anything just smile and keep walking.
  • Get a guide. Unless you speak Arabic or very good French it’s worth getting a guide to show you around the Souks and any other parts of the City you particularly want to visit. It’s easier to avoid the areas that may be a problem, you’ll find out far more that you ever will from a guide book and if you want to shop they can aim you to the best stalls/shops. Most will have their ‘favourites’ and probably get a commission of sorts for bringing you there if you buy but the haggling is down to you and if you don’t want to buy just say no.
  • Haggle!
  • Don’t drink tap water.
  • If you want to take photographs of people ask first (unless you really can be sure not to be seen doing it) some people, especially women are very sensitive about being photographed, you may have to offer some payment to people like the Water Sellers and Fortune Tellers and expect to have to pay if you get anywhere near a Snake Charmer or the men with the Monkeys, and be warned no matter how sneaky you think you are with a camera they will see you, they have spotters in the crowd so if you aim a camera at a Snake or a Monkey be prepared to be holding it before you know it and to pay for the photograph before you can give it back.
  • Visit the Atlas Mountains while you’re there, they are beautiful and full of lovely riverside cafes if you want to lunch. We had a guide organised by our hotel to drive us up there and we thought he would also be the guide when we arrived but had to pay for a local guide when we got there. Be sure to make sure you understand what you get for the money you pay for the trip. It was still worth it and not very expensive (about £20 for the local guide once we got to the mountains.

IMG_0193 IMG_0228 IMG_0285 IMG_0053 IMG_0011 IMG_0013