I would like to start this post off by coming to my own defense on a number of issues. First off, I haven’t been writing (mostly because this is technically a travel blog and I wasn’t traveling) but also because life is busy and there’s only so much I can make happen when I’m at work from 8am - 4pm only to go straight to jiujitsu and stay there till around 8pm when it’s about time to have dinner, see the family, call my fav German guy, and pass the hell out. Second, any typos that may or may not occur throughout this post are not because I can’t spell (believe it or not), but rather bc I broke my pinky doing my new fav hobby - jiujitsu - so it’s currently taped to my ring finger for support and encouragement not to be so broken and bruised and absolutely gross.
For those of you who don’t know, I have two little sisters. To quote my girl Mary Poppins, they are practically perfect in every way. Like, it’s annoying. Plus they’re gorgeous. Mine is one of those “if you can’t find the ugly duckling in the family, it’s you” sort of situations. But it’s cool, I’ve got a pretty bangin’ personality, and obviously I’m super humble, so I’ll live. Anyway, while my younger sister Jesse is about to go into her junior year of high school and kick ass all over the place at track, cross country, and academics in general, my middle sister Sami just graduated high school - YAYAYAYAY - and will be headed to SJSU to study Graphic Design and Marketing in just a few weeks. To celebrate, and because I will use literally anything as an excuse to get my butt back to Europe, we decided to take a sisters trip! **Disclaimer - as I am a benevolent and just eldest sister, obviously I will take it upon myself to take my youngest sister on a badass international trip when the time comes. It’s tough, but what can I say, it’s the cross I have to bear. Anyway, since Sam is the artsy fartsy type and loves all things modern art, I chose our destinations based on their contemporary art presence in the world. As such, our trip itinerary includes mostly places I’ve been to before: Berlin and Hamburg in Germany, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and of course (ugh) Paris, France.
As I write this, we are on the train from Berlin to Hamburg, which is only about a 1.5h trip. “We” meaning myself, my sister, my Marius, and his best friend Jonas. Marius took the time off of his internship at Mercedes as soon as I figured out we would be able to make this trip happen, and Jonas, who is currently working towards his law degree, told us he’d be joining us as well about a month later. The more the merrier, am I right? We met up when WOW Airlines (they call it WOW bc that’s the only word you’re able to muster up after spending 13h on two planes without reclining seats or food or any sort of relief from the perpetual pain and suffering that is traveling for over 20h total) finally let us off of the plane. Basically we pissed off some sort of divine being and the lightning started as soon as we landed and so we couldn’t exit the plane until it stopped. A bit of context - European airports usually give you stairs to the actual runway and then shuttle you to the airport rather than our more American “tunnel directly into the terminal” situation. Sam and I ate our granola bars at this point bc we could feel ourselves getting bitchy and let me tell you how much fun it is when Sam and I are at odds with each other. Food fixed it though and the crisis was averted. Marius and Jonas were patiently waiting - patiently bc they bought beer for their wait - at the terminal as soon as we picked up our bags WHICH I TOTALLY PAID IN ADVANCE TO CHECK AND THEN FORGOT SO IT WAS LIKE CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY WHEN WE REALIZED WE DIDN’T HAVE TO PAY sorry I like saving money I get excited. The four of us headed to our AirBnb and we quickly realized that somehow the boys had packed more for this trip than we had, which is impressive considering neither of them are joining us for the full trip. We had a cute little apartment near the city center with the perfect balcony for morning coffee - believe it or not we actually did wake up early (and by we I mean me and Jonas woke up Marius and Sam bc they could both sleep all day). Being who I am as a person, I had already drafted a decent itinerary and had asked Sam to do the same - bc this is her trip not mine and I want her to see what she thinks is important bc we are very different people - so we merged the lists upon arrival and looked to the boys for approval on our choices just to make sure we weren’t missing anything. Neither of them are from Berlin, in fact I’m the one who’s been here most recently, but they still know more than we do so 10/10 would recommend traveling with natives. Bc we arrived at the apartment around 11pm and bc it’s Berlin, naturally we showered and got ready to go out for drinks. It took some serious effort, lots of making fun of Marius’s navigation skills, and a little bit of Google Maps, but finally we found a spot to hang out and catch up (or in Sam and Jonas’ case to get to know each other bc they’d never met). Eventually we headed home and passed the actual hell out bc we were exhausted, only to wake up early on Friday morning to make a plan and head out.
Day one in Berlin was all the typical stuff - the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Potsdamer Platz, Holocaust Memorial, Unter den Linden, lots of beer, the usual. We hung out at the apartment and played beer pong that night bc we were 100% wrecked tired and wanted to be able to wake up at a decent hour for Sami’s fav part of the trip so far, our tour with Alternative Berlin, which was freaking awesome.
Our tour guide was a Scottish guy named Dave with some really tight jeans and a whole lot of passion for the street art, graffiti, and contemporary art history of Berlin. He taught and showed us so much honestly I’m so glad we were lucky enough to get him as our guide! The tour took FOUR HOURS including a beer break about two hours in bc this is Germany and people die if they don’t get beer at the very least every two hours. Afterwards we visited the East Side Gallery, where after enjoying all the incredible murals on the remnants of the wall, we took a nap in the grass on the edge of the river. Sam woke up ready for more sleep (my sister is actually a sloth, she’s literally sleeping on my shoulder as I type this) so we went to the grocery store to buy ingredients for the tacos I promised I’d make the boys months ago - also to buy copious amounts of beer obviously - and then headed home to cook! Just as sort of a fun fact: Sam doesn’t cook. She almost burned our house down trying to make mac n cheese and she didn’t even actually cook any food. As such, she sat in the corner while the boys helped me cook - ladies if you’re looking for a man I recommend a German, they cook, they clean, AND they have european citizenship. What more could a girl want? The tacos were pretty good despite the fact that we had no taco seasoning and all we could find was this really strange Tex-Mex salsa that was truly unfortunate. Germany doesn’t exactly have a huge Mexican demographic.. They do have doeners though so honestly it all evens out in the end. Naturally we drank while we cooked, pregamed at the apartment, and then headed out to bar hop for the night. Are you sensing a pattern? Bc same.
Sunday was relatively relaxed bc as many of you know, Europe kind of shuts down on Sundays. We visited the Mauerpark flea market which is freaking monstrous and wandered the chaotic aisles between vendors who would give my baby sister “a special price” because she’s “beautiful, like the sun” (screw off, all of you) and enjoyed the crazy atmosphere before deciding to grab a snack and take a break from the sweltering heat by finding some shade. By the way, we looked up the weather for Europe like 73x every day in the week leading up to our departure and at NO STAGE did it say it would be warm enough for SHORTS AND A TANK TOP so I’m glad I brought a pair “just in case” or else I’d be a massive puddle on the cobblestone sidewalks of Berlin.We wandered over to where a pretty witty british guy was making his living as a street performer and after his show we decided to head to get some currywurst - a trademark street food in Berlin - and gelato - a permanent staple in my diet whenever I am anywhere in Europe. Between the beer and the gelato it’s no wonder the number on the scale goes up every time I come home after a long trip. Whatever, c'est la vie and all that crap. Eventually we made it to Tempelhof, an abandoned airport in the heart of Berlin that has been converted into a pretty incredibly awesome community park. We took a walk through the park down one of the runways, which the government tried to tear down a few years back to develop new housing but the people fought back and won (hell yeah!) and decided to head home for the day. We made dinner from groceries we’d bought already bc we are poor as all get out which makes us smart travelers. We compared bank account balances the other day and it was actually comical to think that any of us was anywhere near being an adult.. But that’s okay bc Sam is just now going into college, Jonas still has a few years of school, and Marius and I plan to go broke traveling before coming back to Germany for our masters. After dinner we played a whole bunch of drinking games I had never played before and I totally lost at all of them bc I am the least lucky person I know (so it’s good I work at a casino rather than visit one) and were up pretty damn late, which made waking up to do some clean up and packing this morning went reaaaaaally smoothly. Jonas and I did most of the cleanup bc Sam and Marius were very busy being very deeply asleep, and we finally got our show on the road around 10:30 to go find some souvenirs for Sami, grab some food, turn in our many, many empty beer bottles for some dolla dolla bills (Germany is way better than us at recycling and pretty much everything else) and head to the train station to catch our ride to Hamburg. Conveniently enough, our conductor just announced that we’re five minutes out, so it looks like I’ve reached the end of this post whether I like it or not. Hamburg here we come!
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece
The Baltic countries,
if Covid allows for it (Latvia, Estonia, maybe a stop in Finland)
(in August in the US)