Monthly Archives: July 2012

Beach, Baltic Sea and Nazi Buildings

We were looking for a quick and easy beach getaway in Germany – super last minute.  Yup, you read right – I said “in Germany“!  Not many people associate beautiful, white sand beaches and tranquil ocean waters with Germany.. but just a hop, skip and a jump away from Berlin, we found our little paradise (and a bit of history – we got to see an eerie, crumbling Third Reich tourist resort)- all on the island of Rugen on the Baltic Sea (or “Ostsee”) in Northern Germany.

Beautiful Beach of Sellin on Rugen Island

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Cool Things to See in Berlin – STASI Museum

Who would have known that a lazy Saturday morning bike tour in the former east side of Berlin would lead us to the heart of all evils in the former DDR (former East Germany)?  The head of the former Ministry for State Security (MfS)— or Stasi, as it was more commonly known as, is located at Haus 22  Ruschestraße 103 in Friedrichsein.  Now the old building has been turned into a museum showcasing the techniques this former secret service agency used to keep a close eye on DDR citizens. Some think that the Stasi was even worse than the Gestapo in terms of oppression of its own people.

A typical office during Stasi time – preserved pretty much exactly in the same condition as it was used in.

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How to Learn a New Language – FAST!

The thing I hate the most is being in a new country and not being able to speak the language.  It’s been two months since I arrived in Berlin.  You may think, “Well, you are in Berlin – you can totally get by in English.  You don’t even need German.”  Although that might be true for people passing through the city (and even then, I think “Travel Etiquette” requires that you should always try to speak the language of the country you are visiting in), I’m not here on vacation.  If you want to actually find a job or work in Berlin in something that you are interested in, it’s pretty imperative that you learn German…and learn it fast! So how the heck do you do that? One trick is to find a TANDEM partner in Berlin!

Okay not my tandem partner – but my friend Lisa visiting from Vancouver – on my new street: Odeberger Strasse!

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No Animal Products for me…but Nope, I’m not Vegan

“Ohhhhh, no meat? No dairy? Well, great – another Vegan”, you say – with that little glint in your eye that says “Ugh, another animal rights activist.  I’m going to eat a big, fat steak in front of her to show her that I LIKE eating meat and that I don’t have a problem eating animals. Yum.”

Since June 7th, I’ve been trying a little “diet experiment” => no meat, no cheese, no eggs, no milk, no refined sugars, no corn syrup or fructose glucose crap, no other weird chemicals or processed foods – only plant-based foods. But I don’t like to be called a Vegan.

I tend to associate Vegans (whether correct or not) with animal rights and/or some sort of political agenda.   The Vegan Society seems to agree with me – their definition of a Vegan is “…someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet.”  I’m not doing this diet for the sake of animals – I’m doing it for myself.

Plus, according to PETA, Hubba Bubba Bubblegum and Jollyranchers are vegan.  WTF? So you stop eating animal products but instead ingest a bunch of chemical crap?  That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

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Empty Barge = Swimming Pool? HUH?

In a city like Berlin, where you aren’t trapped by millions of rules and laws dictating what you can and can’t do, people tend to get creative.

Is that a barge floating in the river?  Yes, yes it is!  Continue reading