Spring is (Almost) Here

drive now car convertible berlin berlin-sun-grunewald berlin-grunewald-paulander-beer-picnic berlin-grunewald-picnic

Spring is finally here near. We are starting to have some nicer weather in Berlin. Today is a cold rainy day, but the last few weeks have had majority sunny days and sometime even slightly warmer temperatures! It’s enough to make you think wow, this winter may actually end one day. Ok, ok, maybe a little dramatic, but as we arrived in Berlin mid-September, we’ve pretty much only seen Berlin in the winter. September is technically not winter (not even close) but since their fall weather here is like Sydney’s coldest winter to me it feels like one endless winter, that just got increasingly worse.

I absolutely cannot wait for summer! I have only heard amazing things about Berlin in the summer-time. Apparently people go a bit wild and it’s just like one, big, 3 month long festival filled with outdoor concerts, barbecues and street parties. Bring it on because I’ve had just about enough gloomy grey winter as I can handle. That is why last weekend, when it was finally going to be a beautiful sunny Sunday, we decided to get out of the city for a bit and take a day trip to Grunewald forest on the outskirts of Berlin.

I think the best part of the whole day was the 20min drive there. We signed up for drive-now, a car-sharing service, when we moved and had some minutes we needed to use up, so grabbed a mini convertible and had a joy-ride through the streets of Berlin. Unfortunately we got a little too excited about the sun and forgot that it can still be cold. We spent pretty much the whole day freezing. Oops. But the forest was certainly much prettier with sunshine and it was nice to soak up a little vitamin D, even if it didn’t last long.

When we got home I jumped straight in a hot shower and then curled up under the quilt the rest of the afternoon, trying to warm up. I can’t wait until spring is actually here, but for now I’m just loving the days we get sunshine!

Are We Out of The Woods Yet?

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, to anyone still out there reading hello! I’m sorry it’s just been crickets around here. Life just got too hard and too busy for the last 6 weeks to find time for sleeping and breathing, let alone blogging. It’s been probably the most trying and tumultuous few weeks of my life but having come out on the other side, it was 100% worth it. You might have a vague idea of what’s been going on if you follow me on instagram but basically it’s been an emotional roller coaster ride of apartments, jobs and visa dramas. It all started getting crazy when we ended up apartment-less but I mean really the craziness started when I began working 12 hour days. So much big news I don’t even know where to begin so I guess I’ll just flash back to the end of January when things started to take a turn for us. As you might know, Daniel had landed a job back at the end of October but hadn’t worked a day yet as he had been waiting 3 months for his work visa to be processed. Good old German efficiency. Well, it turns out his visa had been ready since Mid November, the Alien’s office just lost it. The plus side to the whole situation was that it gave him plenty of time to apply for other jobs (he really didn’t want the other one but had no choice since he needed a visa). Well mid- January a miracle happened and he landed an amazing 1 year contract with an online marketing company. This was right before we needed to find a new apartment since our temporary accommodation was about end. We really wanted to find a long term place so we didn’t have to move a third time in 4 months, however it turns out we way underestimated how hard it is to find an apartment in Berlin. Three days before we had to be out of our apartment we really started to panic.

apartment search desperate berlin

I knew we’d hit rock bottom whenI had to post this in every single Berlin apartment search facebook group, but it worked!

We’d left it too late to even find another AirBnB. By Thursday night (we had to be out Saturday) we booked an emergency hotel a few blocks from our apartment. During this same time, other big things were happening. When Daniel had gone in to his new work to sign his new contract they told him that even though he was one of 5 who had been selected out of 350 applicants they still wanted 5 more people. This is when Daniel learned that they were doing a second round of interviews. So, he told them about me. Long story short, the Friday before we had to be out of our apartment (11am Saturday) I was in a 6 hour intensive interview and testing day at Daniel’s company applying for the same position. We got really lucky and, that afternoon, someone who had seen my desperate facebook ad contacted us. She told us she was going overseas for a month on Saturday so we could rent her place while she was gone. After the long interview day I met Daniel and went straight to her place to secure the apartment. Unfortunately, we couldn’t move in until late Saturday and we had to be out of our apartment early Saturday. So later that night we moved into the hotel… in the snow.

His face pretty much sums it up. I wish I could say that was all our stuff, but no this was one of 3 trips. The best was when we had a clothes drying rack perched on a suitcase with a dish drying rack attached. A very classy moment. I"m pretty sure everyone thought we were homeless. I guess we were at that point.

His face pretty much sums it up. I wish I could say that was all our stuff, but no this was one of 3 trips. The best was when we had a clothes drying rack perched on a suitcase with a dish drying rack attached. A very classy moment. I”m pretty sure everyone thought we were homeless. I guess we were at that point.

That weekend we moved twice. First to the hotel Friday night/Saturday morning then to the temporary place Saturday evening/Sunday morning. We had accumulated quite a lot of stuff by this point as the apartment didn’t have everything, so it took us 3 trips back and forth to move all of our stuff in suitcases and plastic bags on the public transport system. I think it’s safe to say it was one of the worst weekends of my life.

The next few weeks were just one giant sleep deprived blur. Daniel was super lucky and his new company helped him resubmit his visa with an agency so it all went through in a couple weeks, with only the slight hiccup of him almost getting deported when his extension visa ran out before his work visa had come through. My lunch times were spent either going to different governmental offices to get all the necessary paperwork to apply to apartments or continuing to interview at Daniel’s company. One of the biggest decisions but also the most exciting I had to make was when I got offered a permanent position to stay on with my company and become a manager or to take the new position at Daniel’s company I managed to secure! After a lot of consideration and back and forth I took the new job! I am now working at the same amazing online marketing company as Daniel in the Social Media Marketing team and having now been there a week and a half it was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! It was a gamble because I was already well established at my old company and I was on a fast-track management path but in the long run I will be much better off with my new company. Not to mention I no longer work 12 hour days! The environment at the new place is just so perfect, it is so much more than we knew when we took the jobs and we are so excited to be there.

We also got really lucky and after viewing and applying to so many different apartments and getting nothing (not even a response) we managed to land an apartment a thousand times better than I ever thought we’d end up with. We are in the exact area we wanted, one of the nicest in Berlin, surrounded by cafes and bars, 5 min walk to a shopping centre, main train station and 15min tram ride to work. But the best part is that we are on the top floor! We get a lot of sunlight (which is rare in Berlin) and we have an amazing view from our balcony. It was a struggle to get a place but we couldn’t be more happy with where we ended up.

We are obsessed with the view from our balcony, can"t believe how lucky we got.

We are obsessed with the view from our balcony, can”t believe how lucky we got.

Apartment-view-berlin

Best part is we get sunshine, a rarity here in Berlin.

Best part is we get sunshine, a rarity here in Berlin.

All in all it’s been a complete emotional roller coaster and a real struggle. Yes we got lucky, but in the end we worked really really hard for this and I feel like we are finally truly settled and set-up for an amazing life in Berlin for however long we decide. Next step, it’s time to travel Europe on the weekends.

And if you made it to the end of this crazy long story, thanks for following along. Everyone’s support has meant so much to us (and I swear next time won’t be a crazy long monologue!). Here’s to finally being stable in Berlin.

German Efficiency- Fact or Fiction?

We all know the stereotype that Germans are known for their efficiency…. well guess what, its a big fat lie. Germany has to be the most inefficient country I have ever been to, or at least any of the governmental systems. It’s like it’s some great big sham that’s really quite impressive how far it’s gone, I mean the whole world knows about German efficiency. They had some good marketers I’ll tell you that!

I have had numerous Germans comment “that’s German efficiency for you” and roll their eyes! It’s a complete and total farce and they are all well aware of it.

Everything you do goes through multiple people/departments, is full of paper work and will take weeks months.

The Germans looove their paper work and they love their lines. Everything you do involves getting there early, to get in the line then waiting at least an hour before it opens then probably another half hour to get a waiting number to then wait at least another hour to be seen.

beetle juice waiting room gif

source

Now you might be thinking ‘come on Hannah you’ve only lived there 4 months’ how can you possibly know about German efficiency. Well if you really want to see how a country functions become an expat and move there. I have never had to jump through so many bureaucratic hoops or deal with so many different facets of governmental institutions. I mean, obviously I wouldn’t need to in Australia being a citizen and all but I seriously doubt it involves as much as Germany. I mean when Daniel moved to Sydney he got a one year working holiday visa…before he went… Online.

Not in Germany!! Nothing happens online, it all involves face to face with lots of waiting in lines and lots of paper work (and usually people who don’t speak English, even though literally everyone else including homeless beggars can).

Fortunately I recently discovered the best way to get what you need when they don’t speak english and refuse to help… keep looking confused and asking the same question over and over again… oh and look like you might cry at any second.

sad glee gif

source

You want a tax ID required for work? You’re going to have to wait in line for that.  You want to register your address? You’re going to have to wait in line for that.You want to apply for a visa? You’re going to have to wait in line for that. 7 times if you’re us, a record so far, we’re yet to meet anyone who took over 3 visits to lodge their visa application. I tell you by the 7th time of waking up at 4am to wait 4 hours all bets are off and social decency/being lady-like goes out the window. When the doors opened I ran up the stairs elbowing people out of the way… I’d do it again not my best moment.

she's the man gif

source

Oh yeh, did I forget to mention you have to register your address every time you move? Yeh every time. Even if you’re living in a hotel, because anything else you want to do requires that precious piece of paper.

The magic rule for calculating how long anything will take, times it by three.

They say the line will take an hour? It will take 3.
You order something to be mailed to you they estimate to take a week? It will take 3.
You apply for your visa and they estimate the processing time to be a month? It will take 3.

tina Fey gif

source

The only area they are efficient is in the supermarket checkout. You feel like you’re on a game show where the slowest bagging shopper gets eliminated. The cashier will have swiped your stuff, taken your money and started swiping the next customers things into your pile before you’ve even managed to open the bag.

how  its feels bagging your own groceries

source

One things for sure, after tackling all of these obstacles you feel pretty darn good about yourself.

emma stone all i do is win gif

source

Disclaimer: This may all be because we live in Berlin, aka East Germany. I have been told the West is nothing like this, but these opinions are purely based on my personal experiences.

A Day Trip to Dresden: Christmas Markets

dresden-christmas-markets-day-trip

Am I the only one who can’t believe the holidays have been and gone already? Post holiday blues have certainly set in and I’ve only been back at work 1 day. As a remedy and since I refuse to admit the holiday period is over here is a recap of a day trip we took to Dresden (about 3 hours from Berlin) to visit their Christmas Markets. Don’t judge me, its cold and dreary here I need some joy.

We went to Dresden the Sunday before Christmas. It was our first time leaving Berlin since we arrived in September and it was so needed. Dresden is home to the Oldest Christmas Market in Germany. If you’re looking for a way to really get in the Christmas spirit look no further!! It was like Christmas exploded all over the square. It was the Christmas Market to end all Christmas Markets. We spent the whole afternoon exploring these markets and were sufficiently Christmased out by the time it was time to catch our bus back to Berlin.

Like any good Christmas market adventure we made the rounds trying all the free samples of stollen, drank some of the best gluhwein we’ve tried and had the most amazing marzipan melted chocolate hot chocolate I have ever had. Ah-fricking-mazing.

dresden-christmas-markets Hannah-dresden-christmas-markets dresden-christmas market-above dresden-christmas-markets-above-view dresden-christmas-markets-ferris-wheel Dresden-christmas-market-nutcracker-windmill lane-dresden-christmas-marketsdresden-christmas-market-nativity-scene dresden-christmas-markets-gluhwein-stand dresden-christmas-markets-gluhwein-barrel dresden-christmas-markets-hannah-gluhwein dresden-christmas-market-fooddresden-christmas-markets-maronidresden-christmas-markets-church-towerdresden-christmas-markets-puppet-theatredresden-christmas-markets-merry-go-rounddresden-christmas-markets-gnome-standdresden-christmas-markets-treedresden-christmas-markets-hansel-gretal dresden-christmas-markets-night dresden-christmas-markets-lights

The Best Ever New Year’s Eve Celebration: Leipzig, Germany

Greatest-New-Years-Eve-Leipzig-Germany

I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again, those German’s know how to party!! This year was hands down the BEST New Years Eve celebration I’ve ever experienced. We rang in the New Year not in Berlin but in a city 2.5 hours away called Leipzig. One of my good friends from Sydney, Emily, was in Germany visiting her German boyfriend and brother and invited us to spend New Years with them. We couldn’t have asked for a better New Years Eve celebration and fun couple of days. From a snow filled first day, to a sushi making dinner party, checking out Leipzig and its crazy residents congregated in the square watching classical music in the rain… on a screen (we still don’t understand why) to the craziest New Years Eve celebration Leipzig did not disappoint. Of course a lot had to do with the great company we had, I swear the 2 days were just filled with endless jokes and laughs from people falling off chairs to learning new fun German phrases (my new fave is Geil it means epic/awesome/sick… but also horny, those crazy Germans) I think its safe to say a good time was had by all!

I’ve had some pretty amazing New Years eve celebrations over the years from Sydney, to New York, to Paris to Byron Bay. But this year takes the cake. Here are 5 reasons why this was our best New Years eve in Leipzig Germany.

1. Fireworks everywhere

Now if you know anything about the amazing spectacle of fireworks Sydney puts on every year (the best in the world in my humble opinion) then you can imagine why I don’t usually have high expectations of other cities being able to top it. But would you believe Leipzig took it to a whole other level this year. There weren’t any city run public fireworks displays, instead it is the one day a year fireworks are legally sold in Germany and people definitely make the most of it. We could hear the bang of fireworks occasionally being set off all day in the lead up by people who just couldn’t wait but nothing prepared us for the craziness of midnight. The streets were filled with people setting off their own fireworks. And I don’t mean little firecrackers, I’m talking full blown fireworks. It was absolutely insane. Bangs and flares echoing through the streets, the air thick with gunpowder and smoke. People throwing smaller firecrackers out windows onto the streets below. It was complete and total anarchy and it was amazing. My adrenaline was running high as we walked through the streets littered with fireworks. It was overwhelming trying to capture it on camera, I didn’t know which way to turn. It was so exhilarating and the most fun New Years Eve I have ever experienced. It’s one thing to watch fireworks, its another to be in the middle of them. I honestly don’t know how its legal but I am so glad it is!!

 

setting-fireworks-leipzig-germanybright-fireworks-new-year-leipzig-germanyfireworks-everywhere-new-year-germanyStreet-fireworks-leipzig-germanyfireworks-street-leipzig-germany green-firework-new-year-leipzig-germany setting-fireworks-new-year-leipzig-germanystreet-firework-take-off-leipzig-new-year-germany

fireworks-ambulance-new-year-leipzig-germany

not surprising considering the anarchy taking place

2. Setting off my first firework

If you really want to see (and hear!) what New Year’s Eve in Leipzig is like you have to watch this. This was a crazy experience standing in the road (with the occasional car or tram speeding by) while heaps of fireworks are being set of all around me and lighting a full blown, shoot into the air, explosive firework.

hannah-daniel-fireworks-new-year-leipzig-germany

my first firework!

3. Great Friends

Our New Years celebrations wouldn’t have been anywhere near as amazing without all of the wonderful friends new and old we spent it with. We had so much fun with everyone it was hard to leave!

boys-fireworks-new-year-germany

the boys and their fireworks

champagne-fireworks-friends-new-year-germany

ready to bring in the New Year with a bang!

boys and beer new years eve leipzig germany

The boys and their beer

Leipzig-friends-cover-album

Heading to the bus New Years Day, didn’t have time to stop for a group photo so took one while walking, have since decided we should make an album since we already have a cover

snow-friends-leipzig-germany

Snow fun!

2. Great food

I swear we spent the majority of our time their eating. We had a great first night making sushi, my expat christmas wish came true! Their were many brunches, coffee and delicious cake at one of Europe’s oldest coffee houses, Coffee Baum, an amazing potluck buffet at the New Years party and a glorious buffet brunch New Years day. We won’t need to eat for a month (which is lucky since I’ve dubbed this month ‘just healthy eating january’ after the blowout of December!)

coffeebaum-leipzig-germany

Coffeebaum-cake-leipzig-germanyhomemade-sushi-party

homemade-sushi

homemade sushi, yep we made that

1. The Snow

The days before we left for Leipzig it finally properly snowed in Berlin. We have been waiting for this moment ever since we moved to Germany. It continued to snow the whole bus ride to Leipzig and the rest of that day. Its amazing how the blanket of white makes everything that much prettier. Naturally a spontaneous snow fight broke out (it was the best snowball making snow!!)

snowball-fight-leipzig-germany

Hannah-Daniel-Snow-Leipzig-Germany snow-leipzig-germany

beautiful snow covered leipzig

beautiful snow covered leipzig

snow-street-leipzig-germany

New-Years-eve-Leipzig-orchaestra

The people of Leipzig watching an orchestra performznce in the square… on a TV… in the Rain. We still don’t know why

A big thanks to Emily, Sebastian and Paul for the BEST New Year’s ever!

Linking up with:

 photo H54Fbutton_zps973d26e1.png

Exciting News!

So I’ve been a bit quiet on the internet front the last week, but thats because… drum roll…. I finally got a job!! *fireworks* *celebratory trumpets* *tears of joy*

It was a long and sometimes rough process but I have an awesome job at the company I wanted (read: spammed their HR with applications) It came completely out of the blue, the called me midday Friday and asked if I could come in in 3 hours for an interview with an MD (this never happens, I’ve had numerous Skype interviews with their HR for other jobs). I literally spoke with him for 10min before he asked me to start Monday! Things move fast here! The position is even in Marketing position like I wanted! (I was previously in sales and trying to transition to this so yay for not being stuck in sales the rest of my life). Its great I’m doing social media management so I literally spend my entire day on Facebook (I used to get in trouble at my last job oops). But I think I’m going to get sick of Facebook very quickly.

upper east side berlin freidrichstrasse

Yep I’m working on the Upper East Side…Berlin not Manhattan. I still felt cool.

Its a really cool company, it feels like university meets real world. Only downside is 12 hour days are the norm. Sounds like fun no? People stay until 8, 9, 10 just as a standard! My first day at about 6pm I was like “soooo… what time do people leave…” Its going to take some serious getting used to. Luckily I have the most amazing boyfriend who has had dinner ready and the apartment spotless every night when I got home. Sorry ladies, he’s taken. He does have an identical twin though… jokes (but seriously he does).

After not working for the last 4 months its a bit of an adjustment but I’m so glad to finally be more stable and to have some income so we can do what we really came here for, travel!! We’re planning on celebrating by taking a day trip to a smaller city, Dresden, a couple of hours away. Its supposed to have great Christmas market so we don’t want to miss that! So far we’ve been to 3 different Christmas markets in Berlin and are not even close to being sick of them. How could you ever get sick of festive cheer! And lots of yummy food and gluhwein of course. We have learnt through trial and error with some guidance from our German friends which foods to eat (and a few we wont be trying again). We ate this weird looking dumpling thing on the weekend that we never would have picked but our friend told us it was her fave, and it did not disappoint. It was certainly an odd creation though, think berliner (jelly filled donut) cross asian dumpling cross bread and butter pudding. Confused yet?

Well here’s to making it through my first week of work and actually earning the weekend! Happy hump day everyone!

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Christmas-fy Your Home Away From Home | A Travellers Guide

hotel christmas decorations on a budget

Away from home from the holidays? Us too. That doesn’t mean your ‘home away from home’, be it a hotel room or temporary apartment like ours, has to be cold and grinch like. It also doesn’t have to cut into your valuable traveling budget.

I know I didn’t think it could be done either, its not often you hear budget and christmas in the same sentence. Its hard with Pinterest absolutely exploding this time of year with stunningly decorated houses full of Christmas cheer. All I desperately want to do is make our apartment look as glorious as them. However since we’re not sure how long we’ll be in Germany and the fact we tend to move apartments every couple of months we didn’t want to invest in a bunch of Christmas decorations and items. We also didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on decorations as we’d much rather spend it on travels and experiences. So we had to get creative.

Here are 5 easy and budget friendly ways to Christmas up your home away from home

1. Candles

Candles are the easiest way to instantly make your home feel warm and cozy. We found Christmas lights didn’t really fit in our budget so candles worked out as a better way to have some lovely twinkling lights around the room. Whether in a line or tea candles in mason jars they make a world of difference. Make sure you have at least one scented one, the red one in the second photo below smells amazinggg, its cinnamon & maple. Straight up smells like cinnamon roll aka heaven. Its a steal too at only 1 Euro from Primark.

Christmas-candle-window-ledge Christmas-snowflake-candles

2. Hanging Ornaments

Some cheap ones like these from IKEA won’t break the budget and work great hanging in the window.

Christmas-window-hanging-ornaments-DIY

We couldn’t find fishing line to hang these with but I snagged some free string from IKEA (in their packaging section) and then just frayed it to get thinner pieces

DIY-hanging-window-christmas-ornamentsDIY-christmas-window-decorations

3. Homemade Ornaments

We had a great night filled with Christmas carols, paper ornament making and wine. Must have wine.

Christmas-Decoration-makingDIY-christmas-tree-topper DIY-gold-brown-paper-ornaments

4. Pine Needle Branches

There is a florist selling Pine Needle branches on just about every block here in Berlin, but our apartment block has some pine tree in the courtyard so I sneakily just trimmed off the ends of a few of those branches. They’ve been a great way to make it feel (an smell!) a lot more Chrismasy since we decided not to get a proper tree.

DIY-pine-needle-garland DIY-Pine-needle-window-corner-decoration

5. Mini Tree

Speaking of not getting a proper tree we debated over whether or not to get a tree. We went out to a few Christmas tree seller pop-up stands and the local supermarket who sold some too. In the end we opted not to buy one. If we wanted a decent tree it was going to cost at least 30 Euros which was more than we wanted to spend (especially since we’d then need a tree stand which cost around 15 Euros). We’d rather spend that money on a nice Christmas Eve dinner (we’re thinking fondue!). So instead we have this adorable miniature potted tree we bought on whim from IKEA weeks ago for 1.29 Euros. We just added some decorations and bam its christmas ready. I actually love it, its super cute and doesn’t take up precious space in our studio apartment!

DIY-Christmas-mini-tree-ornaments

One important thing to do though is buy a special ornament from the country you are in. Daniel’s Dad was kind enough to buy these beautiful (and very German) ornaments for us that will be so special to have each Christmas to remind us of our Christmas in Germany. We hope to continue to add to the collection!

German-ornaments-christmas-decorations

A cuckoo clock and a gingerbread house, does it get more German than that?

Now the place really feels Christmasy and ready for constant Christmas Carols, Hot Chocolate and snuggly nights in watching Christmas Movies

Ugly Christmas Sweater selfie rudolph primark

What Christmas post would be complete without an ugly Christmas sweater selfie

What DIY Christmas decorations have you made? Any other expats/travellers have any other budget Christmas ideas?

 photo H54Fbutton_zps973d26e1.png

All I Want For Christmas… An Expat’s Wishlist

I love being an expat, but sometimes there are certain comforts from home or particular Australian things that I would do just about anything for. Its funny how your perspective on things you need let alone want really changes when you don’t have things you used to just take for granted.

Some of these items aren’t necessarily stuff we can’t buy in Germany but they might be outside our budget or not necessary enough to justify purchasing and the having to lug with us from house to house (especially when at the moment we’ll only be here a year).

So without further adieu heres a list of random items I would love the big jolly fat man to carry down our non-existant fireplace and place under next to our adorable miniature christmas tree.

Expat-Christmas-Wishlist

 

1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10

1. Vegemite

Come on, I’m Australian, you can’t be surprised. I don’t care how cliched it is. Oh sweet Vegemite how I miss you so. Both Daniel and I brought a small thing of Vegemite and they are already gone (by gone I mean they are still in our fridge waiting to be cut open and scraped clean). Ahh damn Daniel for being the only American to actually like Vegemite, I should never have weened him onto it, now I need to ween him off!

2. A pot large enough to hold pasta

So annoying all we have are these little bitchlet pots that I’m like, who even buys these?? All we can do pretty much is boil eggs in them. I had to cook pasta sauce across 2 pots the other night, its just such a pain.

3. Sushi

Sushi. Oh glorious sushi, what I wouldn’t do for sushi train right now omg. Next time I’m in Sydney I’m just going to stuff my face with sushi until I never want to look at it again. Germans right now are probably like ahh we have sushi all over the place. This is true, but it is so expensive!! Its like 8 Euros for a tiny, snack size amount of very plain looking sushi that wouldn’t be enough for anyone expect maybeee a child. Thats $12 Australian, for like 4 small pieces, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

4. A store that accepts Visa and Mastercard

So many places only take EC cards (Some kind of Euro credit card) and won’t take my visa or mastercards! What is going on?? Its not like I even have American Express, these are Visa and Mastercard! On Thanksgiving we were buying our groceries for our feast, we get to the front of the line, have scanned and bagged all our items then when I go to pay on my card we find out they don’t take either. We had to hand almost everything back since we only had a small amount of cash on us at the time. So embarrassing with a giant line behind us. Then we went to the supermarket next door and had the same thing happen. Not fun. Now we make sure we always have cash on us, and coins because the tram ticket machines only take coins! I hate coins.

5. Toaster with a cancel switch

Our place has the cheapest toaster, every time I want to pop my toast up early I either have to risk burning/electrocuting myself or pull the plug out so it pops up. The struggle is real.

6. Clothes Variety

I am SO sick of all of my clothes. Since we weren’t sure how long we’d be here and we plan on doing quite a bit of traveling all I brought was one backpacker pack and one carry-on size suitcase worth of stuff. Not going to lie it was quite a challenge and they were literally stuffed to the brim (thank god for space bags). I’ve bought a couple things here but really only just a couple warm things I needed since I was freezing, but I try not to buy much else since we have to move it from place to place. Its so hard though especially with H & M and Zara on pretty much every corner just begging me to buy all the things (my friends and family know I’m just a bit of a shopaholic).

Hannah-expat-suitcases

I’m still pretty proud of myself, a whole walk-in wardrobe condensed to only this

7. A Dryer

At home in Australia I don’t use a dryer (for Americans reading this, we have them we just rarely use them), but here I feel like it should just be a given that you have a dryer, yet our place doesn’t have one. Trying to squeeze all of our clothes onto one tiny IKEA rack that is then placed in the middle of our studio apartment where it takes like 3 days to dry is getting old fast. Don’t even get me started on when we try to wash sheets, its anything goes at that point, hang it on a door? why not. Across 2 chairs? We’re getting serious now. Not to mention the whole lack of clothes thing I mentioned before means I have to be strategic what I wash and when so I don’t end up with no dry shirts again (turns out I like white, which means they all end up in a whites load).

8. Sunshine

Sunshine is a rare gift here at the moment. Most of the time it is permanently grey and dreary and most likely foggy. Yesterday it was so foggy you were damp after being outside for 10 minutes. It wasn’t raining but you still got wet. Coming from Sydney (and Daniel from California) we are really used to a lot of sunshine so this has been a major adjustment for us. So when the sun does come out its like a big happy surprise. I’ll wake up to see sun streaming behind the curtains and get so excited I’ll leap out of bed and just throw the curtains back. before getting outside ASAP.

9. A magically refilling fridge and Pantry

Ok this might be a bit unattainable but I miss the (usually) full fridge at home living with my parents. Man I had it good (I’m sure my parents are getting satisfaction reading this, hi guys, yes I appreciated it!). I also miss being able to just drive up the road to the supermarket and drive back. Here when we do our weekly grocery shop its like an expedition of walking a few blocks, catching the tram, cramming everything into our backpacks and bags then tram and walk back. I swear it takes forever! Not to mention planning our weeks meals and list writing before so we stay on budget. Then by the time the Sunday rolls around we somehow always seem to be out of something like milk and we didn’t realise before and of course all the supermarkets are closed Sundays. Oh well grocery shopping will forever seem like a breeze one day, when we have a car in the US or Australia and where we won’t have to spend ages trying to translate an ingredient to make sure its what we think it is.

10. SNOW!!!

When it comes down to it, all I really want is snow. All we really want is a White Christmas. I’ve had one other white Christmas and Daniel has never had one. We cannot wait for it to snow here, its going to look so beautiful from our apartment windows looking out over the park below. Everyday I check the weather forecast and its constantly changing. Earlier this week it predicted snow for today, but now we have the most beautiful sunny weather today. Then it said Monday, now it says Wednesday. So I’ve given up, it will just be an exciting surprise one day when it finally happens.

What’s the most unconventional item on your Christmas Wishlist?

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