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

Discovering Arrowtown | Pie & Pint Festival

Lake-Hawea
Sometimes everything just goes right. You know those days where you can’t believe one thing after another just keeps getting better and purely by chance? Well pretty much our entire time in New Zealand was just like that. #blessed …I hope you read that with sarcasm, I cannot stand when people tag that. The best day though where everything kept going right was on our way to Queenstown. It actually started the night before, we had been driving through the beautiful countryside and took longer than we planned because we kept coming across amazing places like this, which we hit at the perfect time with the sun getting low.

We were about an hour outside of Queenstown when it started getting dark and after our bad experiences on our first day where we missed a bunch of beautiful scenery driving in the dark and ended up backtracking, we really didn’t want to miss anything this time. We had heard about the amazing tunnel that goes all the way through a mountain heading into Queenstown and did not want to miss it, so when we came to a fork in the road with both directions saying they were heading to Queenstown we weren’t sure which way to go.

We decided to follow the map and go left but only a few hundred metres down the road we changed our mind, turned around and decided to follow our gut and go the other way, via lake Wanaka. Best decision ever. As we drove through the town even in the dark it looked too cute not to stop so we changed our plans and found a holiday park to stay for the night. After making Daniel walk up and down the main road 3 times reading the menu of every place (he’s such a saint) we had a delicious dinner at Wanaka Speights Ale House, the place we originally picked for dinner. Lamb shanks and blue cod, New Zealand specialties so you can’t go wrong, though it wasn’t hard for it to taste amazing when we had been eating camping food in the rain the few days before.

The next morning we just happened to wake up in time for a stunning pink and red sunrise, for those of you that know me you know I don’t enjoy waking early so this was just pure luck again. And wasn’t it worth itLake-Wanaka-Sunrise-over-trees

Lake-Wanaka-SunriseGolden-sunrise-lake-wanaka

If you are in Wanaka you MUST get a hot chocolate at Patagonia, best hot chocolate (and free wifi win!).

patagonia-hot-chocolateIMG_3181

We then headed off for Queenstown, but once again got side tracked when we saw a sign pointing towards a detour through ‘Historic Arrowtown’ we figured why not, we could always turn around. Again following our gut paid off, as we drove through Arrowtown it honestly looked like a movie set with its cute house and autumn leaves. We decided to head in and try to find the centre of town to check out what real estate was like there, seriously it was so cute we were about ready to chuck out our Berlin plans and move to Arrowtown instead!

arrowtown-autumn-leaves historic-arrowtown arrowtown-light

Suddenly we turned down a street and it was blocked for some event, another stroke of luck there happened to be a parking spot right there so we parked and went to investigate. It was blocked off for part of their Autumn festival, that afternoon it was a Pie and Pint festival. Does it get any better than that?! Naturally we bought tickets beer glasses and joined the festivities. Local brewery stalls, gourmet homemade meat pie stalls and folk music, it was like my dream afternoon. I felt like I was in Gilmore Girls, small town just doesn’t get much better than that.

Arrowtown-autumn-festivalArrowtown-cider Cassels-Sons-Brewery-Arrowtown Milk-Stout-arrowtown Arrowtown-festival-beer-glasses Arrowtown-pie-pint-festival Venison-elderberry-pie Empty-glasses

We’re still off to Berlin but moving to Arrowtown is now our future settling down plan (where we’ll be para-gliders of course).

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!

MY PINTEREST IS ALL BIKINIS AND CAKE

wish-cake-went-to-boobs

This is pretty much the story of my life.

Today I noticed my pinterest feed was an unhealthy mix of bikini body inspiration (aka girls in bikinis with bangin’ bods) and cakes. I suffer from a very common issue, I want to eat all the time and still have that perfect bikini body. Thats not so much to ask yeah?? Well today I realised, holy shit its only 2 months until I leave for Europe! 2 months people! Thats only 8 weeks!! (crap just writing this makes me realise how close this is). And I may or may not have slacked off and gone more towards the cake side of my pinterest and less towards the bikini bod side and am now a few cakes heavier than I’d like. So I’ve decided its time to quit slackin’ and make shit happen! I have 2 months, thats doable (I hope, I’ve never really actually properly tried before). Don’t worry I’m not going to go crazy or anything, mostly because I never could I like food waayyy too much but also really all I need is to shed a few kg’s and tone up.

There are two main motivators here. One Daniel and I both got pretty slack with what we ate in the last few months he was here, no regrets it was a great time! So we made a bet as to who could be the fittest by the time we got to Berlin (relative to the person, I mean come on he’s training to be a pro athlete thats just not a fair competition). I told him yesterday I was getting serious and not going to bitch anymore but take action! He said thats sweet but I didn’t need to do that for him, I said I know! You like me just the way I am right? right?! I was kidding (sort of). Really my big source of motivation is happening before I get to Berlin. I have an awesome trip with a couple of my good girlfriends planned. We’re doing… wait for it… YACHT WEEK IN CROATIA!

Yacht-week

This obviously is not my photo its from The Yacht Week facebook

Thats right 8 of us girls (1 poor guy) have hired a fancy yacht and hottie skipper for a week in Croatia to partake in the awesome week long party that is Yacht Week. If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what yacht week is check it out here. Basically its a whole heap of yacht hired out by groups of party  people all sailing from port to port during the day and partying at each port/on the yachts at night. Can you say best week ever? (probably not you’ll be too drunk busy.)

But of course what yacht week also stands for? A week of constant bikinis… and photos to document the best week of our lives. So thats why I am busy trying to ditch this winter inner tube for a Victoria’s Secret worth bod (maybe aiming a little too high).

Taking a leaf out of Karli Bell’s book from September Farm I’m writing and publicly declaring this goal of eating healthy and actually making it to the gym at least 3-4 times a week in the hopes maybe this will make it stick. So let it be known!

Motivational tips to keep on track or healthy tips send em this way!