A Week in Pictures

berlin-sunset-picnic

We had a really lovely (and sometimes a little hectic) week this last week. It was a welcome change to be busy (and not because of the Ausländerbehörde). I wrote about how life was good and things were really starting to come together the other week and its true. Each week we seem to become a little more stable, a little more established into life in Berlin. A little more like we truly live here. Its a relieving feeling. Packing up your life and moving across the world without jobs or visas is a daunting thing and sometimes I forget what a big deal it is (not to mention being my first time moving out of home!). As an expat in a new city trying to make a new life sometimes you find yourself with this sort of tightness in your chest. I feel like my heart is racing a million miles an hour as I try to ‘do everything’ and ‘sort everything’. Fear of failure is strong when you take such a big leap.

Not having any income yet is hard but we are lucky Berlin is such an affordable city and there are so many things to do that cost little to no money. I had a catering waitress gig the other night which was chaotic and also quite hilarious. Trying to give me instructions was fun since I don’t speak German and they only spoke fragments of English. I was told my job would to “fly”. Yes, fly. I was like “ok yep shall do, wait what?!” Turns out fly meant take plates of food around haha. Daniel’s job starts in 2 weeks which will help a lot. I will miss all of the quality time we have been able to spend together though (24/7 and he still isn’t sick of me). We’re looking forward to not having quite as strict a budget and being able to do some travel.

We moved into our new apartment last weekend and couldn’t be happier. We looked hilarious transporting our things on the train, suitcases, clothes drying rack, plants and all. Even though this place is smaller and not as nice and decorated as the other one we like it much more. We’ve been able to add our own touches and things. It actually feels like our home and not somebody elses. Its amazing what a difference it makes. Not to mention we absolutely LOVE our new area. Its beautiful and so clasically European feeling.

But besides the stress we really do love it here and things keep getting better and more established (thus less stressful) each week. Not to mention freezing!! Holy crap the temperature plumetted this week, I had to go straight out and buy a proper jacket and thank god I did because everyone was out doing the same. When I was buying my jacket I wanted to make sure it would be enough to keep me warm when its apparently going to get down to -15!! So I asked a couple people, it went something like this “hi do you speak English? Ok so umm I’m from Australia and we don’t really have winter so i was wondering… will this keep me warm enough here??” I think they enjoyed it.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and look at the amazing life you are living (in Berlin!) and remember how good you have it, stress and all.

The last week in photos
Berlin-park-fall-leaves

The view from our new apartment

winter-comfort-cinnamon-rolls-hot-chocolate

Winter comforts. Cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate.

berlin-graffit-wall

Thanksgiving for two!

Thanksgiving for two!

Love my new coat, heres to a warm but no visibility winter!

Love my new coat, heres to a warm but no visibility winter!

Can you tell how happy I am/ just itching to dig into that cake?

Can you tell how happy I am/ just itching to dig into that cake?

5-layer-cake-martis-place-berlin

Martin’s Place in Kreuzberg makes hands-down the greatest cakes. This is my fave cake so far with its creamy, buttery icing and candied orange peel. Ah-mazing.

Photo does not do the cakes justice, but look at all the cake tins hanging in the kitchen!!

Photo does not do the cakes justice, but look at all the cake tins hanging in the kitchen!!

mexican-food-berlin

Our fave Mexican place, Santa Maria. The most LEGIT Mexican and in Berlin, who would have thought??

berlin-streetscape

No better place to spend a cold Saturday. Coffee, tea and reading books.

No better place to spend a cold Saturday. Coffee, tea and reading books.

Picnic on a hill overlooking the city. When the sun is out you have to make the most of it.

Picnic on a hill overlooking the city. When the sun is out you have to make the most of it.

Can you tell I love food? And cake (because it is its own category).

What’s your go to winter activity when its freezing outside? Anyone know of some other great cafes/ brunch spots we need to try in Berlin?

Life Is Good

Life-Is-Good

Today marks 2 months since we moved to Berlin, and you now what I realised today? Life is good! A lot has happened in the last 2 months. There have been ups like being here for reunification day and the fall of the wall anniversary. There have aslo been downs, mostly associated with the Auslanderbehorde aka aliens office. But now it finally feels like everything is falling into place.

When we first arrived in Berlin everything was new and exciting, currywurst? Yes please! A giant pretzel? why not! Beer in the middle of the day at a festival? Hell Yeh! After a few weeks though the novelty wore off slightly and we found ourselves at a bit of a loss. Without jobs we had endless free time, which sounds good in theory (I would have killed for that a few months ago) but when everyday is the weekend nothing feels special. It’s easy to fall into a rut when you don’t know anyone, don’t speak the language and have no sort of regular routine. We weren’t home, but we weren’t traveling, it’s a very strange feeling. Couple that with the painstaking job searching and visa process it can be quite tough. After having to go to the Alien’s office a total of 7 times!! Each time getting up at 4am and waiting in line for hours with a bunch of wannabe Germans who keep trying to cut the line (seriously I nearly lost it the 7th time, there was some serious elbowing happening I’ll tell you!) all because the front desk lady took an instant disliking to us because we couldn’t speak German. It can be pretty disheartening. I was about ready to pack it in.

But we didn’t. Things started to pick up. And you know what the great thing about Berlin is? There is always stuff happening. Berlin really is an amazing city, there have been so many events happening during this short time we have lived here from Oktoberfest to reunification day to the Fall of the wall anniversary. Let me tell you they know how to throw a party! I can’t wait for the Christmas Markets, bring on a month of Gluhwien!! This is not to mention all the amazing markets around the city, the acoustic nights at bars that feel like home, the comedy nights at cozy cafes and so much more. We’ve been so lucky to have already had numerous visitors and more to come!

We are in a really great place now. Daniel starts work soon and we both have some great looking potential job prospects. We have met a few great people. We’ve got our favourite restaurants and cafes as well as lists of weekly events we hit up or plan to check out. Even this blog is starting to take off. Friday we are moving to a new apartment in our favourite area on the other side of the city and we couldn’t be more excited. I’ll miss our first apartment, its so nice and we were spoiled for space, and I love our little park and the hipster cafe with the sofas on stilts. But I can’t say I’ll miss almost getting peed on by a homeless woman, faeces of an unknown species (aka we’re never sure if its dog or human) or getting woken to the sounds of screams that sounds like the Turkish mafia. Neukolln, it’s been real. I’ll try to visit occasionally (maybe).

We still have a little way to go before we are truly settled here, but it’s almost starting to feel just a little bit like home. I cannot wait for the first snow! And Christmas Markets! And Gluhwien! I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.

Tonight we went ice skating 2 blocks from our house, at an uncrowded outdoor rink as the slightest hint of snow swirled in the sky. So yeh, life is pretty damn good.

Here’s a snapshot of our first 2 months in Berlin

Sightseeing-Berlin

Being Tourists

Victory-column-berlin

Atop the Victory Column

Potsdam-Palace-Fountain

Oktoberfest-Berlin

Berlin’s Oktoberfest

Berlin-Wall

The Wall

Bear-Pit-Berlin

Sunday Funday at Bear Pit karaoke

Berlin-Reunification-Day

Berlin Reunification Day

Beer-for-reunification

Celebrating Reunification Day like Berliners

Marketneulle-BerlinBerliner-kindl

Fall Leaf Love

Korner-Park-Neukolln-Berlin

Our favourite park around the corner

Love-in-Berlin

Grunewald-exploring

Exploring Grunewald Forest

Parks-of-berlin

Parks around Berlin- Potsdam & Grunewald Forest

Swing-Dance-Berlin

Templhof-Airport-Park-Berlin

Templehof Airport turned park

Templehof-Runway

Going to miss being a block away from Templehof Airport Park (good thing it will be freezing!)

H&D-park Brandenburger-Tor Berlin-Train-Sunset

 

The Fall of the Wall | 25th Anniversary

Fall of Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin. I was really glad we got to be here to celebrate such a historic event. Also as we have quickly discovered the city of Berlin knows how to throw a party. To commemorate this occasion a 15km line of illuminated of balloons on poles was erected through the city to symbolise the wall. Then at a special celebration last night they were all released into the night sky.

The balloons were set up all weekend so Berliners could have the chance to walk the ‘wall’. We went and checked it out Friday with friend (thats right we have a friend now…one friend…between two because we’re cool like that). It was a really great way of displaying the wall because it made it so much easier to envision the, almost random at times, separation of the city. There was information along the way with excerpts about certain sections of the wall from bold escapes to tragic deaths to the mass exit of people into West Berlin on Nov 9th. Its hard to truly imagine what it must have been like, the joy and relief they must have felt when it was torn down 25 years ago. The balloons had a fitting eery beauty to them.

wall of balloons 25 year celebration berlin

balloons through berlin 25 year anniversary

ghost figure art berlin wall

We got so caught up in conversation and seeing the balloons we ended up walking about half of the route over 3 hours! As much as I enjoyed it that was more than enough. However it was great to really feel like a part of this city as we not only got to explore more of the city but were constantly surrounded by other Berliners following the line of their history.

The real celebration happened last night with the release of the balloons. It seemed like the entire population of Berlin (and probably more) came out to see it. The trains and stations were so crowded the ones near the main area were closed! We didn’t even realise we weren’t at the right station at first as we just got funnelled out with the masses of people. We managed to make our way to Potsdamer Platz and along the line of balloons until we were within sight of the Brandenburger Tor (the main event). It was a great spot to watch as we could see the line of balloons for blocks and were only a couple meters away from them. The atmosphere was joyous as everybody waited for the moment. Unfortunately we weren’t right at the Brandenburger Tor so couldn’t hear the symphony playing Beethoven’s 9th as the first of the Balloons were released but the cheer of the crowds as they floated into the cloudy night sky well made up for it. They didn’t set them all off at once but in a one-after-another wave formation. This made for some fun moments when a few balloons every so often wouldn’t release and the crowds went wild cheering them on as their releasers battled the balloons.

celebration 25 years fall of berlin wall

fall of berlin wall 25 year celebration

25 years Berlin Wall balloon release

After the release the crowds starting moving forward to now head to the Brandenburg Gate. With the release of the first wall we thought it was done. But we were deceived. There was in fact a second wall, less sturdy then its predecessor but separating people none the less. There was a sudden breach of the wall, we made a dash for freedom! I ducked under the fence made it through. Daniel unfortunately, did not. And thats how we got separated by a wall in Berlin… ok not that dramatic but we certainly enjoyed the irony of the situation.

separated new berlin wall

He looks impressed doesn’t he

We eventually decided to cut our losses and get out of there before the crowd got any rowdier (it was getting a little worrying especially as we were right in trampling territory if a break was to suddenly occur). We ended the night with celebratory quark balls, also known as fried dough balls rolled in sugar and possibly my favourite thing about Berlin, so I’d say a successful evening all round.

I feel really lucky to have been able to be in Berlin a be a part of such historic event. Sometimes what you give up to be an expat can be overwhelming, but moments like these remind you why you’re doing it and make it all worth it in the end.

5 things that I’ve found surprising in Berlin

Brandenburger Tor German Unity Day festivities
Sometimes I forget that I’m living in a completely foreign city with a different language and culture. Thats the problem with living in cities, they tend to all be very similar. But then you will see things or experience differences that snap you back to the reality that you are living almost exactly on the other side of the world. One of Daniel’s friends explained to us recently he calls these ‘Map Moments’. Moments that make you stop and realise that you are in a place you had only previously looked at on a map and dreamed. With international travel being so easy, you just hop on a plane and within a matter of hours (ok so try 30 from Australia) you can be in a completely different part of the world. Its so simple you sometimes forget just how far away you are. I think if we still had to travel months by ship we’d have a greater appreciation.
So here are 5 things I’ve found surprising in Berlin

1. They still fix and replace cobble stones.

It just looks like so much effort it amazes me they still maintain this tradition and don’t just concrete or asphalt instead. Don’t et me wrong though I’m so glad they do because they are so cute and classic European but I watched them dig them all up to the replace the pipes outside our apartment and then have to replace them all and I swear it took forever and looked so tedious.
Cobble Stone Repairs

This has been the state of our street the entire time we’ve been here

2. Everybody speaks English.

From young to old, business men to the crazed homeless dude who wanted to recite us poetry and switched to perfect English when he realized we didn’t speaks german (lucky us). That is everyone except the employees at the Alien’s office, because that wouldn’t make any sense would it.

3. History is everywhere they just seem to accept it and get on with it.

There is a carpark built on the site where Hitler’s bunker was and then surrounded by apartments that look onto it. The holocaust memorial has people sitting on it and playing around it (though they may be tourists). The picture at the top was taken at the big city festival for German Unity Day. I just found it fascinating the contrast of people on a ride right next to one of Berlin’s most iconic symbols of the Cold War, the Brandenburger Tor (though it is now the symbol of a reunified Berlin).

4. The weather is completely bipolar.

One minute it’s sunny with blue skies, you go into a store come out and it will be pouring with rain. We learnt very fast to always bring a jacket (I swear the Germans just pull one out of no where when the weather changes)

5. Sushi is everywhere but is so expensive.

We’re talking €6 euros for 4 bite size pieces. That’s like $9 when you convert it too! I just can’t bring myself to get it even though I miss it so much, I’m sure I’ll cave one day. On the topic of surprising food we found an amazing authentic mexican restaurant Daniel loves called Santa Maria. This is big coming from him because he is the biggest mexican food snob out and had previously refused to eat Mexican in Berlin as how could it possibly be any good being so far away from California Mexico. Of course it was pretty much full of other Americans, but their burritos are delish, not to mention the 4 Euro happy hour hibiscus margaritas. Ah-mazing.

Anyone know any scrumptious, well priced sushi joints in Berlin?

Berliner Bureaucracy

Oh the joys of bureaucracy. It’s been a difficult week. We are currently in the process of trying to work out and lodge visas. It is not something they make straightforward or give you much information on.
I’m currently sitting in a waiting room filled with crazed people desperate to just be given a waiting number. Daniel’s currently standing in a queue if you can call it that. It’s a semi organised formation of people all trying to elbow each other out. There’s a lot of suspicious eye movement, making sure no one pushes in front of them. The tension is palpable to say the least.

Daniel Berlin Immigration line*

The scene right now

There are conversations about visas that have already expired but they can’t get an appointment to see anyone, others who have come here at 5:30am 3 days in a row, people who waited 6hours the day before only to be handed an appointment for 6 weeks time.

But that’s just this morning, this is not our first German bureaucratic experience. Last week Daniel’s boss sent us to the wrong building. We waited half an hour in line before being told “nein”, handed a piece of paper with a bunch of versions of “please come back with papers written in German and a translator” then promptly made to leave the counter. We decided to try our luck on a another floor just incase we went to the wrong desk and fortunately found a kind woman who spoke a little English who was then the one that informed us we were at the wrong entire place.
So Tuesday we tried again, at the correct place this time, Auslaenderbehoerde, aka the Alien’s Office. Because thats what we are. Aliens. And they don’t let you forget it!

Nein baby meme

We got there just after it opened at 7am, there were people going every which way. We had no idea where to go but I knew we needed to work it out fast because I had read the allotted ‘no appointment’ numbers for the day run out fast. There are a few signs around, but of course all in German. We asked a sort of pseudo info/security desk and managed to get the gist of where to go. When we got to the right spot it became even harder. There is no one to ask, there are a couple signs in German and there are people filling the waiting room and lining up down the hall. Its a nightmare. Luckily a few friendly other Americans (can always count on friendly Americans) told us what to do… Wait in line until someone leaves the room behind that door and then go in to beg get a number. After waiting about 45min in line Daniel finally just went in, luckily because no one was in there. He was kicked out in a matter of seconds and told to come back with a translator, again! We were at the Alien’s office for gods sake!! Homeless people on the street rant to us in English as if the people working in the Alien’s office can’t speak English?!! I mean what are the other poor people in the same waiting room from Sudan and South America supposed to do, they can barely even speak English let alone German!!

Thankfully this nice couple, American wife, German husband, took pity on us and he went in with Daniel to translate. Such a kind man he not only translated he went out of his way to defend Daniel’s case! He told us the lady had wanted to kick Daniel out straight away and he argued with her that it was not right and that Daniel was bringing “prosperous work to the German economy unlike the rest of the ‘so-called’ refugees she was letting just file in and destroy our economy”. He went on that Daniel was educated, skilled and already employed and that she should, well pretty much that she should pull the pole out of her ass. This guy really restored our faith in the people of Germany, he went out of his way to help us and he didn’t even know us AND had his wife and not quite 4 week old baby waiting.

While this was all going on I was chatting with her and the other people in the waiting room, turns out this ridiculousness isn’t unique to us (kind of a relief to know were not just stupid). They told us you need to get to the office at like 5:30am and that they’ve done it in the middle of winter before. This was the third day in a row one a few of them had come, one guy had even had an appointment! They said even for Germans the bureaucracy is a nightmare. So after a bit of solidarity bonding hearing other people’s stories we felt no less frustrated but a little less disheartened to know that this is just what has to be done and that every expat working here has already been through this shit. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

So here are again, third times a charm right?? Right?? I’m waiting in the US waiting room again because the Australian room is already filled up (lucky me the other nations in my section are Iran, Iraq, Afganistan, Jordan, Yemen etc so you can imagine its pretty busy). Daniel went in slightly more prepared this time with pretty much the only German phrase I know ‘Konnte ich bitte eine wartnummern ham’ (I’ve probably totally butchered this)- ‘Can I please have a waiting number?’ At least I hope thats right. Hopefully they’ll see it as a sign of good faith.

Oh wait, he’s back! And what do you know… we have to come back 7am Monday. Let the good times roll.

Anyone have any tips on the visa process in Germany??

5 Northern Hemisphere Fall Bandwagons I’ve Jumped On

Oh hey, Friday! I didn’t even realise it was Friday, this whole not having a job thing is awesome and annoying at the same time. I love the flexibility but having no schedule every day tends to blend into the next. Don’t get me wrong we are constantly out doing things and exploring Berlin but it does feel like everyday is the weekend. This makes Friday a little less special except that today I’m finally joining my first link-up with the fabulous Karli over at September Farm!
Since coming to the Northern Hemisphere in fall and joining the blogging world I’ve discovered this thing they call fall is actually kinda a big deal with certain rights of passages and I’m now obsessed. So here are 5 Northern Hemisphere Bandwagons I’ve jumped on and am holding onto for dear life before what will definitely be my most intense winter ever.

1. Pumpkin spiced lattes.

I totally get it now. And i can tell you it’s not just Americans obsessed with this heavenly fall party in your mouth drink. When I ordered it the girl handed the cup to the barista  with a swift roll of her eyes and exasperated ‘yet another PSL’ (the barista  made some big hand gestures and ranted in german, I think she was excited). From the caffeine to the whipped cream and the cinnamony sugary hint of pumpkin? What’s not to love?

2. Plaid.

Oh plaid I just can’t get enough of you, and flannel plaid is my number one

3. Apple picking.

I was like a kid in a candy shop, it was the ultimate northern hemisphere fall trend I had been so excited to experience and it did not disappoint. Germany decided to grace us with the most beautiful bluebird sunny skies and the most delicious apples and berries (not to mention the Honig Man)

Apple Picking Potsdam, Berlin Germany

How do you like them apples?

4. Apple Pie (or more accurately galette).

What do you do when you have a bunch of fresh picked apples and no pie tin? Make Apple Galette of course. Omg I could have eaten the entire thing to myself and it was the easiest thing to make. I foresee a lot of galettes and fatness in our future.
Homemade Apple Galette

5. Knee-high Riding boots.

One of the happiest purchased I made within days of arriving here, german made brown leather insulated boots, my feet and calves are going to love me as the temperature/barometer continues to drop. I have been searching for the perfect pair for years but having size 42 feet makes things tricky so when I found them in my size, exactly what I wanted and cheaper than what I found back home it was a no brainer.
Now all I need is to go pick my own pumpkin and then elaborately carve it like the ones all over Pinterest, because Pinterest projects always turn out like the picture. Seems doable.

An Afternoon Apple Picking Adventure

A couple weekends ago we decided we needed to get out of the city and explore some of the German countryside. I’d been seeing all sorts of fall activities trending all over social media that just aren’t a thing in Sydney and got inspired to go apple picking. The ultimate fall activity (right behind pumpkin picking).

After researching various options and finding one where you can actually pick the apples off the tree as opposed to some which were just like farmers markets (check closely!) we decided to go to Neumann’s Erntegarten just outside Potsdam. We woke up to a beautiful bluebird sunny day. I constantly feel like we have the best luck. Our apartment has a bike we have access to so we took it on the train with us to Potsdam which is only about a 30-40min ride away on the S7 train. Everybody clearly had the same idea because the train was packed out with bikes, we were glad we only had one we had to manoeuvre. When we got to Potsdam there was a bike rental place (Rent-a-bike) just 5min walk from the station. It was only 10 Euros to rent a bike for the day (until 7pm) and the guy was super nice and inflated the tyres on our other bike and gave us a map of a tour of Potsdam that he detailed to me. We didn’t have time to do the tour but definitely want to return and check out the castles of Potsdam before winter sets in.

Potsdam, BerlinCafes

Riding through Potsdam was such a breeze. They have proper bike lanes with their own set of traffic lights unlike the ones in Sydney where they just paint a line on an existing narrow road and call it ‘safe’. The hardest part was getting Daniel to pay attention to where he was going and stick on the bike lane because he’d get too distracted by all of the grand buildings! Once we left Potsdam the ride through the countryside was such a needed escape. Just riding in the sun alongside green fields and large trees lining the road swaying in the breeze.

Riding through Potsdam Berlin

That face. I die.

Fields of Potsdam Berlin

We arrived at the orchard almost too soon we were enjoying the ride so much. However Neumann’s did not disappoint, with a classic wooden beamed brick building that smelled like my families lake cabin in Minnesota it was surrounded by crates of apples you could choose and a whole stand of pumpkins. A Fall masterpiece. Inside they sold all sorts of various fresh and cured meats, homemade apple juice, wine, cheese, gherkins and more. After checking out all the yummies we grabbed our wooden bucket and headed out to the orchard.

apple picking at Neumanns Erntegarten Potsdam Berlin German orchard apple picking Apfelsaft Potsdam Berlin Pumpkins

We spent the afternoon getting lost in the rows of apple trees and trying all the different types. I’m pretty sure daniel ate more apples than we picked. Nothing quite compares to a fresh apple you just handpicked from the tree. I nearly lost it when I saw the ladder, it just doesn’t get more cliched picturesque than that and the view across the tops of the trees was more than worth climbing the rickety ladder.picking the highest apples Potsdam Berlin Looking over tops of Apples trees Potsdam Berlin

the face of a rotten apple

the face of a rotten apple

Potsdam Apple Orchard Daniel Jumping picking apples Potsdam Berlin Rotten Plum with Beetle Potsdam Berlin Apple Orchardperfect apples Potsdam Berlin

After apples we stumbled across rows and rows of ripe juicy raspberries. As we were stuffing our faces bag, this cute little old bee keeper approached, beckoning me to follow him. So Naturally I did, when a traditional German beekeeper invites you to follow you don’t question it (though I know Daniel certainly was). He then gave us those big beekeeper hats and proceeded to open the bee-box hive thing. I was madly trying to roll my sleeves and pants down and he’s waving his hand at me like its fine and saying “mein leibe” (my love) while stroking a bee on his hand. Yeh it was a little weird, but hey the man has passion. Then he led us into this little hut where he showed us how he scrapes the honeycomb and then spins it in this hand worked machine before giving us a test of the most legit honey I’ve ever had. Did I mention all of his descriptions were 100% in German? Yeh we had no idea what he was saying. Of course this was right before he handed us a jar and wanted 5 Euros, we got that part loud and clear. Yep, we got hussled by a honeyman who didn’t even speak English. Best salesman ever. But hey we ended up with amazing honey. We then went back to raspberry picking and watched him hussle some other unsuspecting people into his bee lair.

Honig Man

Honig Man

potsdam berlin bees and honeycomb Bee hat

After picking some of the most amazing strawberries I’ve ever tasted we left. We had about a dozen apples, a bag of raspberries and a bag of strawberries all for 3.20 Euros. Amazing.

Fresh picked Strawberries

It was one of my favourite German days so far and the crepes Daniel made us with the fresh berries the next day were legendary (he’s a keeper)

 

Homemade Crepes with fresh berries

Daniel’s Amazing Homemade chocolate filled Crepes

I can’t wait for another visit to Potsdam

 

2 Months in Europe… and that’s just the beginning

 

Croatia, Greek Islands, Montenegro, Berlin

Yesterday marked officially 2 months since my arrival Europe and what a whirlwind couple of months it has been! From a month of traveling Croatia, and Greek Islands (plus a little bit of Montenegro thrown in for good measure) with a bunch of girlfriends not to mention time spent with wonderful friends in Switzerland my first month in Europe did not disappoint. There was the crazy antics of Yacht Week, riding scooters around the Island of Vis, walking the wall of Old Town Dubrovnik (aka King’s Landing), 2 days white water rafting the Tara River Canyon Montenegro, partying until dawn in Ios, exploring Santorini by quadbikes. Thats just the tip of the iceberg. But the best part was getting to spend it with great friends, the perfect start to the next European chapter of my life, but some of the hardest goodbyes.

One of the happiest hellos though on the trip was finally being reunited with Daniel who I hadn’t seen since New Zealand. Seeing his beaming face walk through the arrivals door was so exciting. 4+ months of long distance was not fun but we made it. Now here we are almost a month into our time in Berlin and things are already falling into place! Daniel has been offered a job! We can’t believe our luck. This means we can now say we are officially staying in Berlin. I am in the middle of interviewing for a position and have another interview for a different position lined up but regardless of whether or not I get them we can stay because I can always get a working holiday visa (whereas he couldn’t).

We are so excited to call this city home and have already fallen in love with its beauty and atmosphere, not to mention vibrant culture. We are constantly exploring somewhere new or going to a different museum or learning more about its history. Beyond the World War history we are all so familiar with, you forget how old this city is and that it had a rich history spanning long before that.

Beginning our time here in Fall has been such a treat. Watching the leaves change to amber from our 4th story apartment windows has been so special and unique compared to the Fall I’m used to in Sydney. We have embraced the season and all its cliches it has to offer like riding bikes through Potsdam, going apple picking at an orchard and drinking beer while eating currywurst at Berlin’s own Oktoberfest. I’ve also jumped on the Northern Hemisphere fall bandwagon and grabbed a Pumpkin Spice Latte the other day. I get it now. It was like a party in my mouth (#PSLlyf yo).

We have started to meet a few people. One guy who moved here a year ago got so excited when he found out we had moved here and weren’t just visiting, with a bunch of flying hand gestures he told me how its the greatest city and a year on he’s still discovering new things. He said the novelty just doesn’t wear off. Right now, I think he might be right.

I have lots of updates and pictures from my month of travels and our time in Berlin to come!

reunited Zurich

Finally reunited in Zurich

There is No Manual on Becoming an Expat

Preparing to pack up your life and move overseas is hard. There is so much stuff you don’t readily think of that you need to do, from dentist appointments to cancelling gym memberships to working out what to do with my car and packing up my room. It is hectic! Don’t get me wrong I didn’t think it would be easy or anything but I am constantly thinking of new stuff I have to do that you completely forget about because you just take it for granted that its just a part of life, you forget how complex your life really is.

Then we had a slight curve-ball thrown at us the other week when we found out American citizens can’t get Working Holiday Visas… aka I can (being Australian) but Daniel can’t. Thank god the lovely Alex from Speaking Denglish pointed this out when she so kindly answered my long questions on Germany and visas, I honestly don’t know how we missed it when looking into it all but thankfully we had enough time to work out what to do. The plan is still pretty much the same except we’ll now have to get real jobs so we can get working visas, sad face! Downside less flexibility for travel, upside more money for travel! That and I think it makes our families feel a little better that we will hopefully be somewhat stable and not just live like Peter Pan forever. And well if we don’t find jobs we now have plan b… and plan c. Don’t judge me. There is no manual on becoming an expat! I’ve finally resorted to writing a scarily long running to do list and printing out a blank calendar of now until I leave and scheduling everything in. Let me tell you… it’s full. Its pretty damn full.

Then again I guess half the fun is the challenge, knowing that you are making this happen. That you really are ‘taking the road less traveled’.

One of the best but also strangest and saddest parts is trying to see everyone before you. I say best because I have had a great time the past couple of weeks, never saying no to anything because who knows when I’ll do it again or see them again as well as spending some really valuable time with my family who I will miss the most. Its been strange though seeing friends who I don’t catch up with on a regular basis and then having to randomly drop into conversation the fact that I’m moving overseas in oh you know 3 weeks! I do quite enjoy the reactions I get though haha! Here is a bit of a photo recap of from the last 2 weeks of all of the great quality family and friends time I’ve had trying to get a good dose of all things Sydney (and other parts of Australia) to last me until I’m back, who knows when that will be! Hannah-Perisher-Ski-Selfie

 Thats right we have skiing in Australia! Ski-whiteout-perisher Perisher-family-ski-lift-selfieGirls-high-tea-cruise copy High tea Cruise on Sydney Harbour with my girls
Girls-selfie-sydney-harbour-bridgemy-girlsUnleash girls with a view and a GoPro and let the group selfies run wild
Southhead-old-gun-stationA wonderful day with my family at South Head, Sydney HarbourSydney-harbour-rock-edgeElliot-Hannah-SouthheadGoing to miss my bro
Leaping-dolphinHannah-Alice-Anabelle-Southhead
Hornby-lightthe-gap copyBad-selfies Siblings fun, We’re so good at taking group shots.
bronte-beach-pool-large-swellwhitewash-tamarama-beachlarge-swell-bronte-beachCrazy swells at Bondi Beach

Saying goodbye is going to be the hardest part.

Life Lately | When It Rains It Pours

Nothing-worth-having-comes-easy

Ok clearly I’m not very good at the whole consistently posting thing but I swear I have a good excuse, I finally bought my one-way ticket to Germany! I’ve spent the last week organising that, who would have thought a one-way flight would be so tricky. When it comes to the visa issues that go with such a flight (Europe’s not so cool with you flying in without a plan to leave!), money issues trying to get the cheapest way there and timing it gets difficult. Thank god for the wonderful Erin at STA, so helpful. She managed to find the best and cheapest way to get me to Zagreb, Croatia. Its going to be long and painful as I’m flying Sydney to Singapore, to Helsinki, to Zurich where I’m going to stay with some family friends and leave all of my excess luggage there before catching a 14 hour overnight train Zagreb. Its going to be sucky but oh so worth it.

So today I’ve been off at the German consulate attempting to apply for my German working Holiday Visa, it didn’t go so well. Note for future expats: they are not the most helpful or patient (even though I was the only one in the 20+ person waiting room). Its ok I’ll come back next week, I’m sure she’s looking forward to it as much as I am…

Some really big news last week, my position at work was filled! Eek! No going back now. But its for the best, the new person brings everything I had to offer and more so I can leave feeling relieved that they are in really good hands.

I had a fun but kind of sad weekend fare-welling my 2 best friends as they set off to travel Europe. It was a great night with everyone, dancing, drinking and being merry. But it was sad because it was the last time for a while that the 3 of us will all party together. I’ll see one of them in a month when she gets back and then I’ll meet up with the other in Croatia for Yacht Week and the Greek Islands, but still last time all 3 of us will be together for a while! After almost 10 years of friendship this is so strange to think about.

Best-friendsThe ladies
Sydney-Departure-GateGood luck! Have fun!!

It was a bit of an odd night (besides all of the cocktails, speeches and sparklers) because I saw a bunch of friends who I don’t get to see on a regular basis so hadn’t had a chance to tell them I was leaving and since I may not see them before I leave I had to just randomly drop this news into conversations. Its kinda awkward telling people, its not like it naturally comes up in conversation so I have randomly dump it in like “that’s great your job is going so well oh by the way I’m moving to Germany in 6 weeks” this is usually followed by looks of shock followed by congratulations so its not all bad. Its nice to have such wonderful supportive friends, its going to be hard not seeing them for a while. Its not like the US where everybody leaves their high school friends to go to college then leaves their college friends etc, here most people go to University in Sydney so majority of people still live at home and go to the same Uni’s. This means my high school friends are still my main group of friends, our group has just expanded as people made new friends at Uni and added to it. Its really nice because I have a really strong core group of friends, its going to be tough not having them around in Berlin.

So yeah its been a little hectic, but this week I’m going to post more of New Zealand because I haven’t even gotten to the awesome parts yet!