Travel

+ A Long Weekend in Berlin

New York - Berlin - Tokyo - East Side Gallery, Berlin

What can I say that could possibly sum up my time in Berlin? I fell in love with the city, got bitten by the travel bug and am now more determined than ever to visit all of the major European cities.

Despite the fact that the best nightclubs have some kind of unspoken anti-tourist policy, I managed to experience one night of proper Berlin nightlife in a dingy, derelict, smoke-filled cavern otherwise known as About:Blank. Thankfully me and my friend Sam were accompanied by two German guys we met after we had been turned away from Berghain (having turned up a bit too late on Sunday night!), so they did some smooth talking and we got in! The first sign that this place wasn't your average nightclub was th at our cameras was confiscated and bags throughly frisked before we had even got through the door! We were even let in for free because we got there near closing, just in time for a freaking amazing DJ set by Jascha Baruch.

We also had an amazing tour with Sandeman's 'Home of the Famous Free-Tour', which gave us a great tour covering the history behind sights such as The Brandenburg Gate, The Reichstag, Luftwaffe HQ, The Book Burning Memorial, The Old Royal Boulevard and Museum Island.

What I loved most about Berlin was the completely undefinable vibe it has when you walk around its neighbourhoods. The streets are invariably wide, empty, dusty and lined with graffiti and massive mounds of mud and bricks. Metres from the main Humboldt University, there's barely anyone around... it was as if we had walked onto an abandoned film set and none of the extras had turned up!

Grand Hostel in Berlin
Our room at the Grand Hostel, Berlin

East Side Gallery, Berlin
One of the great pieces of art along the East Side Gallery.


+ I miss China!

I haven't been to China since I left there in November 2008, and I'd love to go back and visit soon to see what massive changes have gone on there since I was last in Shanghai. Here are some of my photos taken from when I lived there in 2008:



Me at Tianmen Square


This was taken around sunset in the lovely city of Nanjing.


The Chinese people were, by and large, so friendly and warm. I love this lady's eccentric hat!

Golden Week 375
We camped near this stunning tea farm near a town called Anji.
View from the steps of Dr Sun Yat-Sen's Mausoleum
View from the steps of Dr Sun Yat-Sen's Mausoleum, Zhonghan National Park.
Chinese man on pavement, holding silver metallic boxes
Chinese man on pavement, holding silver metallic boxes and wearing a big smile!


+ MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Dream Destination


source @ flickr

OK, so I did travel over a dozen countries in the past year but I am still keeping my beady eyes on potential getaway spots for the future. There's nothing wrong with dreaming....

Second in the series is the city of Moscow, in Russia. While researching this place I learnt that either a) Russia is in Asia, or b) that part of Russia is in Europe and the other part is in Asia...! Either way, Russia's charm is that it's precisely NOT Europe or Asia. Russia has an essence all of its own, and I'd love to visit.

So the main image above, St Basil's Cathedral, one of the landmarks bordering Red Square instantly recognisable as a landmarks Moscow, but there so so much more that I want to learn about the city.


source @ Flickr

Pictured above is some of the gorgeous figurines available to buy at the Izmailovsky flea market. this open-air market is the place to go for souvenirs, art and these Russian nested Matrioshka dolls.

Moscow Metro Stations


Funnily enough, Moscow's metro stations are in all the best Moscow tour guides! According to one website:

"The downtown stations are filled with valuable artworks such as murals, statues and mosaics as well as crystal chandeliers and marble archways and benches."

Here are some pictures to rouse your curiosity:


source @ Flickr

Source @ Flickr

The Old Arbat



source @ Flickr

The guy above is adorable with his little newspaper hat isn't he?! The Old Arbat is a pedestrianised street that over recent years has become quite commercialised and touristy, but there are lots of souvenir opportunities and you are guaranteed some great live music!

Moscow Street Style





     


+ The Best Places to Shop in the World...

Here are some of the best places to shop in the world... according to me and my explorations of the globe!

 

Luang Prabang Night Market, Laos


Kalabird

As the sun sets over the Mekong river, Luang Prabang's main road transforms. Pedestrianised and lined with small tentlike structures, the nightmarket overtakes the city. By browsing the stalls you can pick up anything from handpainted bookmarks, snake wine, paper parasols, silk scarves to sculptures. You will need to bring a bargaining frame of mind with you, as prices charged can drop dramatically within seconds! I managed to buy a handmade skirt for the equivalent of £3, and a beautiful silk scarf for about the same price. What is more magical and exotic than answering the question "Where did you buy that?" than Luang Prabang?


 

Chatachak Weekend Market, Bangkok


ginger massey

Get relief from the tiresome heat in Bangkok by seeking refuge under the roof of Chatachak weekend market. With over 9,000 individual stalls to browse, you will see everything from pedrigree-bred puppies, pencils, flip-flops (see pic above!), clothes and silk cushions. There are smoothie vendors awaiting you on your much-needed break, and you can also taste some satisfying Pad Thai while there. All in all, a great pit-stop before your flight home!


 

San Telmo Market, Buenos Aires

San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Overpriced but not overhyped, San Telmo market is the Argentinian hub of all that's stylish, hip and must-have. Expect immaculately designed boutiques with expertly-composed window displays.

The market itself is a melting pot of vintage accessories, fruit, jewellery, fur coats, and old bric-a-brac. Prices might be high but the goods on offer are hard to find, so make sure you have enough space in your backpack!


 

Vintage shopping, Santiago

Santiago Vintage Map

I didn't do much else in Santiago apart from looking around this little ghetto of vintage stores built up along calle Bandera. Get excited just at the thought of buying some generously discounted retro dresses, jumpers and platform shoes? Then take the metro to Puente Cal y Canto. You will see a large highway, avoid that and go back on yourself, walking along Bandera towards Agustina. Basically, if you wander around Rosas, Bandera or Agustinas, you WILL find plenty of dirt-cheap stores filled to the brim with some really cool items. I unfortunately didn't take any photos of the area, but above is a map for reference!


 

Dongtai Lu Antiques Market, Shanghai


Ever wanted to pick up your own authentic Chinese bird cage or mini Buddha ornament?! Hell, why not go one step further and spend your hard-earned yuan on red crochet lanterns, or perhaps military-wear fresh from China's past? Whether you buy anything or not, you'll find some great photo opportunities and enjoy the stroll.


 

Hoi An, Vietnam


Nikolieau

The odds are that at least one item in your wardrobe was made in Vietnam, so why not come to Hoi An yourself and get your clothes tailored and made to fit you perfectly? Not content with providing designer-style dresses, silk gowns and other evening wear, you can even get a fake pair of Nike's made for you! If you are travelling in the area it makes sense to ship a large batch back to your home country, and most local guesthouses offer great shipping rates. Expect to pay around £15 for an expertly made outfit. I paid about $25 for a pair of specially designed 'Nike' trainers, although the only problem was the woman used a shade of fabric completely unlike what I asked for... Most places will create your item without 24 hours. Have fun!
*TOP TIP - Bring your favourite dress or item of clothing, and they will recreate it for you in the colour and fabric you desire.*


If you're planning on travelling anytime soon, leave as much space in your backpack as physically possible to fill up on all those exoticly eccentric items!


+ TOKYO, JAPAN - Dream Destination


Kirk Pederson

OK, so I did travel over a dozen countries in the past year but I am still keeping my beady eyes on potential getaway spots for the future. There's nothing wrong with dreaming....

First up in my procastinating is Tokyo, Japan. I want to live and breathe the highly-charged atmosphere. Technology, neon lights and perhaps a chance glance of a living and breathing geisha in full attire. Acre-wide street crossings, televised adverts on street corners, karoake bars and outlandish streetstyle.

Speaking of streetstyle, one of my all-time fave sites for hair and style inspiration is Style-Arena i really can't think of any other city in the whole world which brings it the way that Tokyo does. Evidence below:

Source @ Flickr

Things to do in Tokyo

So, make-believing that I'm off to Tokyo in the near future, what would I do when I get there?


EricFlexYourHead

Trip Advisor informs me that Hibiya Park/Koen is one of the top places to see. Judging from the picture above it's a pretty popular place for locals to lunch.


Dennis Gajudo

Cherry blossom viewing in Chidorigafuchi is a must-do. You rent a boat and float serenely in this gorgeous moat. OMG how romantic?!


nuetaipoo

On every visitors' list HAS to be shopping, in particular shiny, futuristic and altogether quite random gadgets! Akihabara Electric Town is a discount electronics store district, positively brimming with miniscule gadgets and also said to be the hub for Japanese pop culture. Many youth-culture otaku come to Akihabara, as seen in the picture above.