Summer Days in London

Summer Days in London
Last month I went for my annual trip to London and as always I had the best time exploring my favourite city. I only stayed a long weekend and this time I felt like taking it easy and didn’t pack as much as my last trip. A lot of time was spent in parks just basking¬†in the sun, it was wonderful. I thought I would write a quick and casual summary of what I was up to during these few blissful day because there were a few great London discoveries that were made.

When your breakfast spot has the prettiest facade on the street ūüíē
Day 1 started with a lovely breakfast at Well Street Kitchen. I opted for the granola and greek yogurt topped by a deliciously tart berry compote. Portions were generous and everything was well done and fresh (bar the OJ that tasted like it was cut with concentrate juice which was slightly disappointing). The digestion phase was spent sitting in the nearby park and observing the people passing by. It always strikes me how close-knitted the East-end community looks like from afar, everybody seems to be talking to each other.
Summer Days in London
Summer Days in Dublin
Next I hopped on a bus to Islington High Street. I had briefly window-shopped there before, it’s quite a vibrant area with an interesting¬†mix of shops. I took advantage of being in the area to check out Home & Pantry, an independent Interior Shop I had long wanted to visit. But the real reason I was in the area was to go to the Victoria Miro Gallery to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition. This was first on my ‘London wishlist’ this year as I really¬†didn’t want to miss it before it closed. I had previously seen Kusama’s work before in the Tate back in 2012 and absolutely loved her universe. This time the exhibition seemed to focus on reflections, ripples and pumpkins. It was a completely¬†mind-blowing experience to stand in the room of ‘All the Eternal Love I have for the Pumpkins‘.
Summer Days in London
Afterwards, I went to Spitalfields market where I had a late lunch at Leon. I had heard of their sweet potato falafel box and thought it sounded like a great combination. It turns out it was a tad bland, it was nice but nothing to write home about. I immediately got luncheon remorse when I noticed that Pilpel was just outside the market hall. Oh well, you win some, you lose some… I wanted to wander in the area to take pictures of the old Georgian streets. I went back to Folgate Street where stands¬†the molto brilliantissimo Dennis Severs House and explored¬†Fournier Street and Princelet Street for the first time. These were honestly two of the most beautiful streets I had ever trod on, pure film set material.
Summer Days in London
The day’s explorations ended with a walk along Brick Lane and a quick look to the facade of the Whitechapel¬†Bell Foundry. It was unfortunately closed by the time I got there but it’s a fascinating place, full of history, as it is here that Big Ben and the Liberty Bell were cast. I definitely need to come back during business hours.
Summer Days in LondonSummer Days in London
On Day 2, I went to Sutton House. This I will need to write a post about but it is a beautiful Tudor manor, the oldest residential building in Hackney actually. It used to belong to Ralph Sadleir, a courtier of the terrifying Henry VIII. You can visit the many rooms but if you don’t care much for history there’s also a tea house and a cafe. The inner courtyard is a wonderful little place to sit down and have a cuppa.
Summer Days in London
And on the final day, I went to Camden Market. I hadn’t been there in years! Even though my recollection of it was the most crowded place in London, I’m pretty sure it managed to get even busier since the last time I was here. The market stalls expanded quite a bit too. The food variety¬†would make anyone’s head spin (especially if you suffer from option paralysis like me). Unrelated question but does anyone know what happened to the group of punks who would always¬†hang out by the bridge? Did the crowds make them run away and hide? Is punk dead?
Summer Days in LondonSummer Days in London
Following that, I was in dire need of a quieter and greener place so I took off and headed to Primrose Hill. But first, I stopped by Wholefoods to get a few snacks for an impromptu picnic. Another overwhelming place for little old indecisive me but I managed to get out with some interesting quinoa crisps and novelty pop corn as well as a refreshing cold-pressed watermelon juice.
On my way to the top of the hill, I crossed a couple walking 5 dachshunds. Their little stumpy legs were working hard! Incidentally, this is not the first time I see 5 dachshunds on a hill!
Primrose Hill offers fantastic view over the London skyline (although I think I might prefer the view from Hampstead Heath).¬†The wind was strong at the top and some kids were flying kites. Which meant I had Mary Poppins Let’s Go Fly a Kite¬†looping in my head all afternoon!
Summer Days in London
I noticed the hill¬†was not too far from Little Venice so I hopped on¬†the canal pathway and lazily wandered along the water. I’m actually not sure I even went through Little Venice (?), I walked until I met a dead-end. It was such a pleasant stroll, the canal¬†was bordered by grandiose-looking manors. Back onto the streets, I found my way to the nearest tube station.¬†Next stop: Westminster!
Summer Days in London

Summer Days in London
I hadn’t seen Big Ben in years! It still takes my breath away and fills me with nostalgia, bringing me back to¬†being a teenager discovering London for the first time. I’m forever impressed with this city’s grandeur, the Houses of Parliament look like it was chiselled from¬†ice and the Thames so strong, ploughs through the city like a thousand¬†concrete-coloured stallions. Just as I was crossing Westminster Bridge, I noticed a group of Asian couples in the middle of a wedding photoshoot. It was just the weirdest thing, the brides wore sneakers under their beautiful tulle dresses and gave their best smiles to bossy photographers.
I patiently waited for them to finish their shoot and headed to that little tunnel under the bridge to take that famous framed picture of Big Ben. Unfortunately the light was pants but as I crossed to the other side of the bridge, I was welcomed by the warm golden hour.
Summer Days in London

This was the perfect ending to another successful trip to this city I love so much. It was great to chill¬†and revisit old favourites. I’m quite chuffed with the new places I saw too. But now it was time to go to the “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning” and bid good bye to London. Until next time old friend!

Aunt Benny, snow and flea market galore | Berlin, Day 5

My last day in Berlin was a Sunday which is flea market day in the German capital. So many markets happening every single week, I’m a wee bit jealous of you Berliners! They’re my favourite things to do on holidays so I made something of a military plan to cover as many of them as I could. But first I needed some fuel for the busy day ahead!
Berlin, Day 5

I went to the uber popular brunch spot, Aunt Benny, which was just down the road from my airbnb. I would lie if this didn’t majorly factor into my choice of accommodation (that and the cat of course). The place was already packed by 9.30am and as it was too cold to sit on the benches outside, the lovely waitress suggested I sat in the shoebox-sized adjacent bar. I ordered the quiche with a cup of sweet chai. It was simple but fresh and well executed. I also sampled the bagels and the homemade cream cheese, which gave me a whole new appreciation for¬†the combination. And because I was still reeling from the previous night’s cheesecake fiasco, I may have had a naughty slice of New York cheesecake. So good!
Berlin, Day 5

The first flea market of the day was actually a couple of streets away from Aunt Benny and my airbnb. On Boxhagener Platz, the cute stalls were peppered around the square park and the little kiosk. As I got closer to the first stall, the snow started to fall heavily. I was having a real pinch-me-now moment. Everything looked so bright,¬†kids were being pulled on their sledges by their parents between the stalls. It looked like a romantic film set, up until the path turned into an ice-skating ring and standing up straight was a matter of life and death… for my butt.¬†I’m glad to say no damage was done and that I jumped on the tram for my next flea in one piece.
Berlin, Day 5

Mauerpark is like the mother of all flea markets. I can’t believe how big it was! Rows and rows of cardboard boxes full of junk, you could literally spend all day digging through old stuff. Once again, I was solely attracted to crockery so I reluctantly cut the research effort short knowing that it would be hard to bring anything back home. Nonetheless what a lovely way to spend a Sunday. If old stuff is not your cup of tea, there are lots of food stalls and crafted gifts. On a nearby snowy hill, kids were having a ball, sliding down on their sledges. Very picturesque! But the afternoon was getting on and I still had one flea market to check out.
Berlin, Day 5

Rathaus Schoneberg had a completely different vibe. Located in a quiet area in the West of Berlin, the market stalls were spread on the cobbled-stoned square facing the town hall. It was definitely not as busy but quite neighbourly. I had a quick browse and walked back through the snowy park to the U-bahn station where the train would take me back to Friedrichshain.
Berlin, Day 5

There, I had a little play around with the iconic photoautomat booths next to the train station before heading to the vegan supermarket. This might have been my favourite supermarket experience. What a wild statement. I love how fun the food was there. In the freezer, there was a whole fake turkey! With a limited luggage space, I had to settle on a couple small items so I picked white strawberry chocolate and vegan salami. They were so convincing. Next time I need to bring an empty suitcase to stock up!
Berlin, Day 5

For my last meal, I could not not have falafel. Luckily, I was standing¬†a few meters away from Mustafa Demir’ Gemuse Kebap. It’s a hole in a wall kind of establishment so don’t expect comfort or chairs for that matter, you’ll have to dine on the pavement. But their falafel wrap is¬†pretty amazing. I’d go as far to say that it was the most creative in terms of toppings I’ve had. So much going on between the flat bread, I couldn’t make out what half of it was but it was bursting with flavours, no greasy sauce needed.

That’s a wrap (!!) on my Berlin trip. Unfortunately, it was cut shorter than anticipated as Aer Lingus changed my night flight to a morning one the day after. I wish I had the time to visit the Charlottenburg palace and had it been warmer I would have definitely gone to Templehof Airfield and Spreepark, the abandoned theme park. I definitely need to plot another visit to Berlin. I hope the last few posts¬†inspire you to do the same. One word of advice¬†if you go, plan your trip during the warm season as I felt the city truly reveals itself while aimlessly wandering.

Day 1| Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

A singing man, a protest and the missed cheesecake | Berlin, Day 4

Berlin, Day 4
I¬†started the day with this little white fluff of happiness, watching the snowflakes falling by the window. If you didn’t¬†read day 1 of my Berlin trip, you might have missed that my airbnb came with a cat. He was such a personality, spending his time either napping or supervising the courtyard.

It was then time to head out the door. Like every morning, I took the U-bahn, aka the Berlin tube, to join the city centre. My airbnb was located just next to a station so it was very handy to explore the city. I quickly snapped this picture as it was the first time I got on one of these vintage carriages. So small and so seventies!
Berlin, Day 4
I decided to go back to Mitte, the city centre where the main sights are, as I realised I had forgotten to check out Gendarmenmarkt, which is often referred as one of the most beautiful squares of Europe. I, for one, think it has nothing against ‘my’¬†Grand Place but it wasn’t too shabby indeed! On the marketplace, you’ll find the German Cathedral, the Concert Hall and the French Cathedral (the last two pictured below). The guy next to the fountain was singing some Oasis songs at the top of his lungs and I’m not sure why but I found him quite moving. Maybe it’s because he was facing the towering¬†Concert Hall as if he was imploring¬†Listen to me!. I was about to give him my change when it was suggested to me that the cup he was holding was actually his coffee. Awkward situation averted, phew!

On the square, there’s also an old-fashioned toyshop with an army of nutcracker soldiers in the window and other beautiful wooden objects. The Christmas decorations were still up so there were loads to look at. Side note, I was surprised to see so many garlands and trees still up walking in Berlin mid-January. Do Germans have¬†a hard time letting go of Christmas? Does anyone know why?
Berlin, Day 4
Next stop that morning was Bebelplabtz which is famous for being the spot where Nazis held¬†book-burning ceremonies. I wanted to see the memorial but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. On the opposite pavement, there was a little second-hand book market which is probably the most a-propos place to sell books, don’t you think?
Berlin, Day 4
On a lighter note, I then made my way to the Mall of Berlin where I wanted to browse the home section of H&M. I’m forever jealous of the other countries where H&M homeware is stocked so¬†I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to browse IRL the goodies that had me dreaming online. In typical ‘Nora’s fashion’, I got overwhelmed and nearly left the shop empty-handed when I spotted a cute marble phone cover by the till so at least that came home with me! I wandered a bit more in the mall and browsed in Zara Home and¬†in the Marriage Freres tea shop.

As I stepped outside, I found myself in the middle of the biggest demonstration I ever seen. I’m not 100% sure what was going on but there seemed to be a lot of discontentment¬†against¬†the power in place. Among groups representing Vegans, LGBT¬†Rights and the Refugees,¬†I¬†listened to speeches shouted from megaphones for a while. I don’t do well in big crowds so I slipped away to a deserted side street and went for a bite in a shabby greasy spoon.
Berlin, Day 4
Going to the Topography of Terror museum wasn’t part of the¬†plan but I ended deciding to go there on a whim after seeing it pretty much mentioned in every Berlin guide I read. It’s located just next to the Martin-Gropius-Bau exhibition hall which is a stunner of a building. It has these pretty gold medallions all over it. I took a good while admiring and photographing it, nearly getting run over by a car in the process. After googling it, I found out that it’s pretty amazing inside too so I really¬†regret not¬†stepping in.

In front of ¬†Topography of Terror, there’s a segment of the Berlin Wall still standing as well as the excavated cellar¬†where prisoners were tortured and executed by the Nazis. The museum is indeed built where the Gestapo HQ used to stand. The Topography of Terror examines the Nazi institutions and the crimes they carried. One thing I would say is that the exhibition is quite static. Chuck loads of information is displayed on white boards so I would probably advise you to watch a good documentary on the subject beforehand and then focus on the areas in the exhibition you’re interested in. Queuing to read the boards can get a bit tedious otherwise. The part that captivated my attention the most was the beginnings of the National Socialist party and how they managed to gain so much power with such a vile¬†agenda. It turns out that voters’ indifference is probably the most¬†powerful political tool. It is a delicate balance achieved by giving something to the people they want then taking away something else and repeat the process. It is scary how that method still rings true today.
Berlin, Day 4
When I left the museum, I headed to the nearest U-bahn entrance. I rode¬†South to the neighbourhood of Kreuzberg.¬†The atmosphere there was probably the liveliest of all the areas in Berlin I had visited so far. The streets there were a pleasant¬†combination of Kebab restaurants and indie shops. In a courtyard, I found the hipster Voo Store where cool magazines, designer clothes and beautiful people drinking coffee formed a harmonious hub. I quickly browsed the thoughtfully¬†curated items on display¬†and made my way towards my last cultural stop of the day: The Museum of Things. How do I describe¬†this museum with this¬†strangely vague name? If you love collections, you will enjoy browsing these cabinets. Objects are displayed according to function, material or colour. It’s incredibly eye and camera-pleasing. As you can imagine, I went a bit snap-happy so no doubt I will expand on this place in a later post.

By the time I got out of the museum, the night had fallen on the city. However, I was in the mood for cake and looking on my mapstr, I noticed that Five Elephant was on the¬†way to my airbnb. It turns out that once again I underestimated Berlin geography. The walk felt long, although the cold and the neighbourhood with the creepy circus and the questionable street-sellers might have had something to do with it. I passed many cute cafes but my heart was set on Five Elephant as it came recommended by Mariell’s blog. She claimed they serve the best cheesecake in history. If that’s not an incentive, I don’t know what is! Unfortunately, when I finally got there, the place was packed. Thick-condensation-on-the-window packed! I turned on¬†my heels and jumped on the bus home.

Are you all caught up with my Berlin trip so far? Here are Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 if you missed them.

Eyeliner, french toast and an evening in the museums | Berlin, Day 3

Berlin, Day 3
Day 3 in Berlin started with a spot of shopping.¬†I can’t say it was the promise of browsing that lured¬†me in the giant shopping mall Alexa, just off Alexanderplatz. I think I was more interested by any source of heat at that stage. I’m glad I stepped in as I stumbled upon¬†a Kiko shop that was having¬†the most ridiculous sale ever. So while warming up, I stocked up on my favourite eyeliner and other bits. I’m¬†all about that kind of multitasking.
Berlin, Day 3
Berlin, Day 3
First on my list of things to see that day was the Berlin Cathedral. It’s quite an impressive building. There is something about the way it looms over the river Spree that reminded me of Notre Dame de Paris and the Seine.¬†It made the area quite romantic really, even the bridge next to it had something French about it.

Standing on¬†the bank of the river, I could see a gold dome shining in the distance. I followed it like the old¬†magpie I am, thinking it would probably be a¬†Russian¬†Orthodox church. It turns out it was the New Synagogue. The most beautiful one I ever did see, it looked like an intricate¬†wooden jewellery box. It’s certainly worth a look if you’re in the area. And the surrounding street is actually very lively, Oranienburger Strasse seemed to be a haven for hip bars and restaurants. I didn’t put any of these places to the test as I was on my way to the House of Small Wonder, near Friedrichstrasse.
Berlin, Day 3
I had been dreaming of their infamous Croissant French Toast ever since reading about them on Jess-On-Thames’ blog. I vaguely pretended to look at the menu and ordered them straight away and accompanied by a matcha latte. They were indeed delicious although I would say that the portion is rather on the small side, just a warning in case you are really hungry. Maybe, I was too greedy… The decor of that place was absolutely magical, so many plants, it had an air of French Indochina.
Berlin, Day 3
I then headed to the Charite University Hospital. The campus was so eerie, blocks and blocks of stern buildings that looked like abandoned asylums. I¬†couldn’t help thinking it would make¬†a brilliant map for a video-game. There, I visited the medical museum with its gory collection of jars¬†filled with diseased organs. This stuff wasn’t for the faint-hearted, I’m sure you’re grateful that photography wasn’t allowed inside.
Berlin, Day 3
Next stop,¬†keeping with the creepy and weird theme, was the¬†Design Panoptikum. This ‘surreal museum for industrial objects’ was such a great surprise. And something I will be sure to write more about here. The charismatic founder, Vlad, takes you away on a journey where things are not always what they seem.¬†Loved it!
Berlin, Day 3
My ‘night at the museum’ ended with the DDR Museum. The museum presents the daily life¬†of the people who lived¬†in East Germany in a very interactive way, through a collection of mundane objects, from their beach essentials¬†to the¬†cars they drove.

I don’t think I have ever been to so many museums in one evening! I’m going to blame the cold for that. Rather tired, I ran back home but made sure to¬†stop for a burger first. A falafel burger, nat√ľrlich.

Here are Day 1 and Day 2 if you missed them.

Chandeliers, pink rooms & film props | Berlin, Day 2

Berlin, Day 2
On Day 2, I left the city to go to Potsdam, a town 45 minutes away from Berlin. The reason I wanted to go there was to visit the Sanssouci park¬†which comprises of several grandiose palaces and buildings. Unfortunately, only the main Sanssouci Palace and the New Palace were open during the low season but I still took the combi-ticket as I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see as many rococo rooms as I could that day.
I did find it a bit puzzling that there was no Winter ticket as you only get to see 2 palaces out of the 5 buildings open in the full season for the same price. Tickets are not cheap and on top of that, you need to buy a photo permit, maps must¬†be bought from machines, there’s a charge to the restrooms and some parts¬†of the palaces open that day were going under some works. I don’t regret it as it was totally worth it, I had a magnificent day out and I can imagine that the maintenance of the whole park¬†must cost a fortune but to be perfectly honest, I do feel that there should be some kind of gesture towards the low season tourists.
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
First up was the main Sanssouci Palace which was the summer residence of Frederick the Great. Forgive me if I’m not very historically accurate here, but taking pictures while holding the audio guide and keeping up with the group was a bit of a challenge. The guy was reacting against the squareness of his father who thought education was frivolous. He lived¬†for arts and philosophy. He even asked Voltaire to come and live with him at Sanssouci. You can see the room where he stayed¬†today, it’s a mad thing! Its yellow walls are covered with wooden parrots and flowers (I will show it to you in another post, I’ve way too many pictures to share). Frederick was as exuberant in his lifestyle as in his choice for home decor. He loved French baroque and his living space is an¬†incredible display of the rococo trend. As a visitor, I marvelled¬†at his taste¬†and felt like fist-bumping the guy… Not sure I would have felt the same as a tax-payer at the time!

When the tour was done, I had some time to kill before the next one¬†would start at the New Palace. I took that opportunity to walk in the¬†gardens surrounding the palaces. They’re huge so it took me quite a long time to get to the New Palace and my 7 minute-late arrival caused the receptionist a panic but thankfully she let me grab an audioguide and join the group…
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
The atmosphere inside the New Palace offers an interesting contrast to Sanssouci. The windows had been blocked off, everything felt a bit dusty and sad. The rooms were freezing cold. But I think I liked it even better, it reminded me of the abandoned house Professor Emilius Browne squats in during the Blitz in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
Rococo was out of fashion at the time Frederick the Great built this palace but he could not get enough of the chandeliers, the silk tapestries and the gilded frames. His love for rococo was so strong that a new form of the style¬†was named after him ‘Frederician Rococo’. My kinda guy.
The New Palace had some of the most impressive rooms I had seen that day.¬†The reception hall had a sea theme and was covered with seashells and another one with¬†pink marble from floor to ceiling. My favourite room¬†though was the hunters lodge, surprisingly it looked like it could have been Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir, what with its feminine blush tapestries and the wooden rosebuds carved on the ceilings.

I had a little bit of time left before the night would fall so I decided to stay a bit longer in Potsdam to check out the film museum. Unfortunately, cameras weren’t allowed inside so I’ve nothing to show to you bar my ticket.
Berlin, Day 2

Potsdam is an important spot in the history of cinema. There, you will¬†find Babelsberg Studios, the first ever large-scale film studio, birthplace of masterpieces¬†such as the iconic Metropolis.¬†To my surprise, I found out that the studios are still in activity¬†and produced quite a few international blockbusters in recent years like Inglorious Basterds, V for Vendetta or The Grand Budapest Hotel. The Film Museum displayed quite a few props used in the nearby studios, old machinery and vintage makeup. I especially liked looking closely at the editing consoles.¬†It turns out that editing was historically a woman’s job because of their¬†smaller fingers. It made me smile that women had such an important role behind every great story shot on the silver screen.

Read about my first day in Berlin here.

Street art, Pastel Houses & David Bowie’s Flat | Berlin, Day 1

It’s been a few days since I’ve been back in Dublin and I’m not sure I’ve quite collected all my thoughts on Berlin yet but I thought I would show you day by day what I did in the German capital. Technically, this wasn’t my first day but my third one. On Day 1, I didn’t take any pictures but I roamed around where my Airbnb flat was located to get my bearings and Day 2 was spent unfortunately inside as I was sick. I was in good company though as my Airbnb host had left her cat in my care and it was so cosy to have a little purring friend by my side. It was my first time using Airbnb by the way and maybe I could dedicate a post to my experience if anyone’s curious on how the service works but to make it short here, I am a total convert, the whole thing was absolutely delightful!
The Fraternal KissSo let’s go back to my first day exploring Berlin. My flat was located in Berlin East, in the neighbourhood of Friedrichshain and on that morning, I decided to walk to my first port of call: The Berlin East Gallery. I don’t know about you but generally when I get to a new place, I feel like I need to walk everywhere and I avoid confined spaces for the first few days. Museums and public transport make me feel a bit claustrophobic up until I have a better grasp of the geography surrounding me.

It took me about 45 minutes to walk to the most famous segment of the wall covered with murals. The walk there was an atmospheric one, on the big boulevards of East Berlin, with their towering stalinist buildings. Few times during my trip, I felt like suffocating thinking of the past, this was one of them.

The walk along the Wall cheered me up. I was armed with patience to take a tourist-free picture of the infamous Fraternal Kiss (pictured above) which I heard was near to impossible. It turns out sightseeing at the crack of dawn is great, the whole gallery was empty. Too bad about that ugly fence though.

Nikolaiviertel
Nikolaiviertel
Berlin, Day 1From there, I had planned to walk¬†along the river Spree to get to the city centre but I didn’t factor in the size of Berlin. I knew it was big, I think I read somewhere that it is 10 times bigger than Paris but I guess I thought I could deal with it… Well, I ate my hat and took the U-bahn, aka the Berlin tube to my next stop, Nikolaiviertel (not without a little breakfast stop to a kebab joint oops… One thing I love about Berlin is how falafel is so readily available, it’s literally everywhere so it was hard for me not to have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. (Hi my name is Nora and I’m a falafel addict).

The neighbourhood of Nikolaiviertel was high on my to-see list for the simple reason that it looks like it could have been the set of a scene in Grand Budapest Hotel. The houses are painted with pleasing shades of pastel and they boast of pretty ornaments like bows and garlands. The contrast is quite impressive actually when you step from a big boulevard that has a distinct seventies vibe to this quaint quarter that could belong to a city like Vienna.
Berlin, Day 1I jumped back on the U-bahn towards the South of the city as there was something I was adamant to do that day. Like the rest of the planet, I had a hard time coming to terms with the death of David Bowie. I woke up that morning thinking it was a nightmare. His music had such an impact on me as a young adult although I am not going to pretend here that I was the biggest fan, I sort of ignored anything he did after Diamond Dogs. So I found some comfort in being in Berlin when it happened and discovering how their fates were intertwined. I went to Haupstrasse where he was sharing a flat with Iggy Pop for a few years in the seventies. In front of his building door layed flowers, drawings, candles and poems. I stood there with a handful of people in silent disbelief.
Berlin, Day 1
Berlin, Day 1
Berlin, Day 1
Berlin, Day 1

I then made my way back to the centre to see the main sights. It was my first time in Berlin, actually I think it was my first time in Germany weirdly enough so I felt like I should cross them off my list.
Pictured above, you can see Checkpoint Charlie which was the Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Nowadays it serves as a picture opportunity for tourists where they can pose with actors dressed in fake army uniforms.

Next was the iconic Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building which sprung chilling image of World War II in my mind. Lastly, the day ended with a visit to the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of Social Nationalism and to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

There’s been a distinctive lack of posts around here, I hope you won’t hold a grudge but I’ve been trying to keep my head above water with assignments and general anxiety, so the mood hasn’t been very conducive to writing blog posts. But¬†yesterday I was out and about in town for a job and I thought I would take a few pictures¬†to show you Dublin in all its Autumn splendour. It’s probably ¬†the season when Dublin is at its prettiest (although I’ll probably say something similar come Spring). If you’re looking into visiting the Irish capital, I’d recommend you come at this time of the year as there are generally quite a few events and festivals knocking about and the weather is generally what you would expect, so no disappointment there to have (as opposed to our underwhelming¬†Summers).

Yesterday started with a bit of Dublin Bus drama, I was on my way to town when a guy decided to hold¬†the bus hostage because the driver allegedly overcharged him. Nothing abnormal for a weekday but a bit of a pain when you’re trying to get somewhere. So I squeezed past the angry shouting men and decided to walk the way to town. This turned out to be a bloody good thing¬†as it meant I had to¬†walk through Stephen’s green. The park is a true Autumn Wonderland at the moment. I slowly let go of the commute tension, breathed full lungs of the musty air¬†and gleefully stepped on the dry colourful leaves.
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

My first port of call was the National Museum of Archeology. It was my first time visiting it and if I hadn’t had to for a job, I’d probably have never stepped inside. If you read me regurlarly you know I’m a sucker for period rooms but I can’t say that anything happening before that time captures my imagination. So while the exhibits left me a bit cold (bar the very thing I was coming to photograph, it left me a bit shivery that… I’ll probably talk about it later), I was completely enthralled with the building itself. The tiled floors are some of the best I’ve seen¬†and the domed¬†ceiling in the entrance is one¬†pretty amazing sight.

A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
I then walked around the beautiful squares of Georgian Dublin to¬†look at the red ivy creeping on the bricks here and there. The temperature dropped so I stopped by Yogism to get a hot drink. I opted for¬†a matcha with almond milk which I’ve been meaning to try for the longest time. It was actually quite nice, would go for it again! (sorry I destroyed the pretty latte art because you know, SUGAR).
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
I was also looking for some new stationery so I stopped by TK Maxx and Article in the beautiful Powerscourt Townhouse. I already waxed lyrical about Article here but I could have bought everything, this shop is curated to a T.
Later as I was passing by Dublin’s City Hall, I stepped in to admire another phenomenal domed¬†ceiling. I would have never guessed that such a jewel of a design was there to be admired if it wasn’t for Emily’s blog.¬†#thepowerofblogs
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

The day ended with a couple of pictures taken at St Audoen’s Church and a walk by the Liffey to catch my bus home. Doesn’t it look like the banks¬†could belong to Paris the way the light hits the stone?¬†

What’s your verdict of Dublin in the Autumn? Doesn’t it look glorious?¬†
As Halloween is fast-approaching, I thought I¬†would set the mood on the blog next week so I hope you’re ready to get spooked x

Flower market, pizza slices & tower blocks | London, Day 4

Columbia Road Flower Market
COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET

Sunday mornings are made for markets, right? One I had been meaning to check out for a long time is the Columbia Road Flower Market. That weekend, I finally managed the early rise necessary to enjoy the market before it gets too crowded.
I’m not a coffee drinker but that morning, I really needed a caffeine fix. I was on full Zombie mode. Luckily, Jane knew a great cafe stall, which was located in the courtyard of the pub The Royal Oak¬†(on Columbia Road). The coffee there was so smooth, I swear, I didn’t even need to put¬†sugar in it! Thank the Lord, I don’t live anywhere near that place,¬†I would have started down the dangerous slope of caffeine addiction at full speed.
I enjoyed the market a lot, I walked back and forth¬†several times to look at all the flowers and to get all the shots I wanted. The light was quite stark, the sun shone brightly on one side of the market while the other one was in the shadow. Switching from one side to the other, in between the people,¬†was a great camera¬†exercise. It forced me to remember the settings and not to rely on my screen anymore. I feel like I made some progress that day! I’ll¬†show you the pictures in a later post where I’ll talk more about the market and the surrounding shops.

Columbia Road, London E2 E7RG
http://www.columbiaroad.info

The City of London Police Museum

After the market, I mooched around in Shoreditch. It’s such an energising area. So many incredible shops and eateries, one can easily lose track of time… and money. I took note of¬†two beautifully curated shops on Calvert Avenue: O’Dell’s¬†and Luna & Curious. My stomach reminded me of its presence¬†and I went on a food mission.¬†I ended up grabbing¬†pizza slice in the snazzy¬†Voodoo Rays.¬†It was pretty good and it gave me the energy I needed to walk all the way to…

Barbican Centre
THE BARBICAN CENTRE

If you’ve never heard of the Barbican Centre, it’s a housing estate slash arts centre slash music and drama school slash conservatory… I probably forgot something but it’s an imposing structure and walking among its halls, I felt like I was on the set of a working-class film from the Sixties. Again, I’ll talk about it in more detail in a later post.

Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
http://www.barbican.org.uk/

Leadenhall Market
Leadenhal Market
LEADENHALL MARKET

The rest of the day was spent walking in the¬†City of London, which is a¬†district¬†I’d never really explored before. I took my sweet time, nose in the air as usual, getting lost sometimes, but always inspired by London’s great architecture and its different variations. And speaking of astounding architecture, my last destination that day was Leadenhall Market. It’s one of the oldest covered markets in London. It dates back from the 14th century. If it looks slightly familiar to you, it is probably because you’ve seen it before¬†in the¬†first Harry Potter film. It is a bit magical, even in real life, even on a Sunday when the shops¬†are¬†closed and¬†the galleries¬†deserted.

London EC3V 1LT
http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visit-the-city/eat-drink/leadenhall-market/Pages/default.aspx

And that’s day 4 over! Only two more days left of my trip to London to tell you all about! If you missed any of the previous days, here is a recap:
Day 1: Audrey Hepburn & Ice-Cream along the Thames | Day 2: Spicy falafel, Totoro, golden gates & confettis | Day 3: Canal walk & neon signs

Canal walk & Neon Signs | London, Day 3

Hertford Union Canal
Hertford Union Canal
HERTFORD UNION CANAL

Saturday started with a peaceful walk along the Hertford Union Canal, which is the canal that goes along Victoria Park and¬†reaches the Olympic Park. Thanks to my friend Jane, I discovered that London has quite an extensive canal system. It’s something I know very little about and I think¬†it’s an area¬†that still feels a¬†bit secret about the city.¬†Isn’t it fantastic that you could cross the whole of London following a canal route?! That’s something I’d really love to explore more next time I visit.
I very much enjoyed looking at the beautiful inhabited barges and the colorful graffitis along the canal. Hertford Union is quieter than Regent’s Canal but it feels like it’s on the verge of turning into something as buzzy, judging from the few eateries, pubs¬†and cafes in cute shacks¬†sprinkled¬†along the bank.
I walked until the Hackney Marshes where I jumped on a bus towards one of the most incredible places I’ve ever visited…

God's Own JunkyardGod's Own Junkyard
GOD’S OWN JUNKYARD

This ‘neon sign graveyard’ had been on my bucketlist for¬†the longest¬†time. The reason was¬†that it’s located quite far in the East of London. I’m so happy I got to finally visit it, the experience was unreal! There wasn’t a bit of wall in this warehouse that wasn’t covered with a colourfully-lit sign. I absolutely adored it and as you might expect, I took one million pictures¬†and plan to dedicate a whole post to¬†the place. Sorry about the teaser, but that’s all you’re getting from me today!

Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall St
Walthamstow, London E17 9HQ
http://www.godsownjunkyard.co.uk/

Thanks for checking in today! If you missed the previous days of my trip in London, here are Day 1 and Day 2. See you tomorrow! x

Audrey Hepburn & Ice-cream along the Thames | London, Day 1

I’m just back from a long week in London and it was fantastic as per usual. I got to tick off so much from my ‘London Bucketlist’!¬†I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it so I thought I would post everyday this week with snappy¬†rundowns¬†of each day spent¬†in my favourite city.¬†And in the hopefully not too distant future, i will write more in-depth posts about some of the¬†places mentioned. That way, I’ll also be able to talk about places that would have never made the cut. I want to quickly add¬†that everything here will be¬†budget-friendly. The pound was incredibly strong compared to the Euro so money was flying through my pockets even more so than usual. I tried to be wise and eat at home most of the time thanks to my friend who was putting me up (if you’re reading, thank you again Jane) so I’m afraid the recommendations for eateries and restaurants will be few and far between. But without further ado, here’s day 1 of my stay in the Big Smoke.

National Portrait Gallery

AUDREY HEPBURN, PORTRAITS OF AN ICON @ THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

First port of call was the photographic exhibition on Audrey Hepburn. I used to be obsessed with her and whatever films she played in so when Jane mentioned it in an email, I knew it had to go on ‘the list’.
The exhibition recounts her life in pictures, from her mischievous smile as a child to her UNICEF work in Africa. Did you know she was born in Belgium by the way? #proudpatrioticmoment
In between, there’s quite a few publicity theatre and film shots, I was delighted¬†to discover that a couple of her films escaped my Hepburn madness era. But there’s also incredible portraits by renowned photographers such as Cecil Beaton, Mark Shaw and the technicolor-wizard Norman Parkinson. I was so absorbed I didn’t even notice Gok Wan was in the same room, haha! The exhibition comprises of three rooms (and a half), it’s quite small but the pictures are full of interesting details. My favourite one was by Mark Shaw where you can see queen Audrey from three different angles in a mirrored dressing room.

Audrey is the most intringuingly childish, adult, feminine tomboy I’ve ever photographed. She’s many women wrapped in one.

Mark Shaw

PS: Photography wasn’t allowed inside, I even got shouted at for taking the picture of the entrance above -_-

2 July – 18 October 2015
St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE
http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/hepburn/home.php

South Bank

SOUTH BANK

After wandering on the different floors of the National Portrait Gallery (which is free by the way), it was time to head out and soak up that hazy London sun.¬†Direction: South Bank! Even though it’s quite a popular destination for both Londoners and tourists, I had actually never visited the area. When I lived in London, I really liked the bit of the bank from Tower Bridge and Eastwards. I’m glad I finally remedied to that ‘London faux-pas’ because it was a really pleasant walk. I watched the skaters rolling around in the skate park, browsed through¬†a second-hand book market, made a silly picture in front of the National theatre, looked at¬†the leaflets to see what was up in the Southbank arts centre and ate a strawberry ice-cream while watching people and seagulls.

It was then time to go home to go grocery shopping and on my way to the bus stop, I got to cross the Millenium Bridge for the first time, the view on the beautiful Saint Paul’s Cathedral was insane! How can one ever¬†get tired of London?

Hope you enjoyed Day 1! Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Day 2 x