LONDON & BERLIN MARCH 2018
All photos are edited with VSCO mobile presets. Combination of Sony A7RII & mobile images.
DAY 1: After 12 hours of flying, we arrived at Heathrow airport at 10:00am. We'd been up for about 21 hours straight. We managed to find our way to Putney to Ellen's flat! Passed out hardcore for a few hours and then ventured out for our first night in London! We were so stoked to be staying with Ellen in her beloved "Put Put". How freaking cute are the streets?
DAY 2: Ellen had to go to work, so we explored Putney on our own until she got home. We were looking for coffee and a place to eat. We're walking down the street and we see a restaurant that says "SOURDOUGH PIZZA" & "COFFEE". SCORE. The Dynamo is by far our favorite restaurant we ate at the whole trip! We went at least like 3 times. Our favs was their mushroom pizza with truffle oil, vegan coconut milk yogurt with granola, & oat milk cappuccinos. YUM. It's super interesting that almond and coconut milk aren't really dairy alternative options in London. Either soy or oat milk are the options!
DAY 3: ELLEN IS OFF FROM WORK! This was our "tourist" day. We grabbed lunch at another pizza place before we took the train into central London. We got our own Oyster cards so we could travel with ease. (Can you tell we like pizza?). It's kind of stupid how much I loved riding on the train and the tube. It was just so nice not having to drive and walking to and from everywhere. We walked 8 miles that day and it set the precedent for the amount of walking we'd do for the rest of the trip!
Day 5: We packed our bags and headed for Berlin. We took a train from the airport to East Berlin, where we'd be staying at The Generator Hostel in Mitte. As soon as we got off the train in Berlin, the air was heavy. I knew so much awful history had happened here. As we walked to our hostel, we passed the only German Jewish Synagogue to survive WWII. I didn't take a photo of it because it was too heavy for me.
We were super hungry so the first thing we did after checking into our hostel was finding food. We ate at the cutest (and most delicious) Jewish hummus restaurant called Hummus & Friends. I had the best hummus ever. One of my favorite things about this place was their motto, "Make Hummus, Not Walls".
The rest of the evening we walked all around Berlin. We found a cool art alley, drank wine outside on a patio, and ate cheesecake. My favorite thing about Berlin is the architecture and just walking around the streets.
DAY 6: This was our first full day in Berlin. We decided to hit some famous architecture spots, like the Berliner Dom Cathedral. It was absolutely breathtaking the moment we turned the corner and saw the cathedral. These pictures don't do it justice.
Since it happened to be Monday, the KunstHalle art gallery we passed by was having free admission Monday. The exhibit on display was the life work of artist Fahrelnissa Zeid. She was known for her large scale abstract paintings. We marveled at the evolution of her artwork throughout the course of her life. She struggled with creating abstract working in the 1940's and eventually went all in and defined her own sort of art. Her husband was the Prince of the Kingdom of Iraq. They moved around from Berlin, to Baghdad, to Paris, and all over Europe and the Middle East.
Prince Zeid's family was assassinated and they had to flee. After her husband's family was killed, she regressed in creating art and felt uninspired. She eventually had to learn how to cook in her 50's and began to paint on chicken, beef, and fish bones and covered them in resin. Towards the end of her life, she began creating portraits. She conquered all kinds of art and colors and it was spectacular to learn about this lady and see her work in person. I fell in love with this quote by her:
"In abstract painting, the unconscious part of me tries to express itself and interpret my inner exigences, without making a definite point of fixing things. But in a portrait, you have a person in front of you; the human begins with his life, his thought, and his origins. In a portrait, there are the structures, the color, the forms, and the spirit, a kind of totality of art. In order to give life to a portrait I intentionally make slight mistakes, I mean mistakes in drawing the human form, not the silks and draperies, for these must appear as they are. If the faces are shown exactly as they are the portraits will be void of dreams, of soaring, of their own language, and seem statuesque."
I highly suggest you check her out.
We grabbed food at a random restaurant we found walking around. I had to share a picture of my lunch because I was so excited that lox, latkes, and horseradish was on the menu. I haven't had latkes since my grandma passed away when I was 13. The meal reminded me of my grandparents, and emotional once again.
DAY 7: This was our last day in Germany and the most emotional one for me. Before our flight back to London, we visited the Berlin Wall Memorial and The Jewish History Museum. At the Berlin Wall, we learned all about the history of when the wall stood from 1961-1989. Almost 200 people were killed during this time, almost half under the age of 18. There was a memorial on site of the images of most of the victims. The wall was erected to stop the mass emigration from East Berlin to West Berlin. The East Berlin government removed a parish cemetery that was on site in order to build the wall. All of the graves were moved. It was really eerie there. On parts of the wall that still stand, there's graffiti that says:
"We have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in".
Half of the Jewish History Museum was dedicated towards the significance of Jerusalem to Islam, Christianity, & Judaism/ the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the other half was dedicated towards the Holocaust. What hit me the most were the art exhibits and actual Jewish stars that were recovered from coats of Jewish people who died. You can still see the thread that had been attached and sewn on. One of the art exhibits was The Garden of Exile- 49 columns filled with earth are arranged in a square, standing vertically on a slanting floor. Olive willows grow out of the columns. The garden's form- a square- is the only completely rectangular form in the entire museum. This quote by Daniel Libeskind about The Garden of Exile stood out to me:
"One feels a little bit sick walking through it. But it is accurate, because that is what perfect order feels like when you leave the history of Berlin."
I'm Jewish on my father's side. Everyone in my dad's family still practices Judaism. My great grandfather was born in Krakow, Poland. As tensions were rising in Europe, my great grandfather traveled ALONE at age 13 on ship and went to Brooklyn, New York where he had some family waiting for him. His immediate family stayed behind because Poland was their home and all they knew. They were killed in the Holocaust.
It's wild to think that if my great grandfather had never escaped to America, I wouldn't be alive. My grandfather wouldn't of been born, my father wouldn't of been born, I wouldn't of been born. I learned so much about WWI, WWII, and the Holocaust growing up because of my education and my family history. I knew it had happened and absolutely heartbreaking, but I had never traveled outside of the U.S. so I couldn't quite grasp that this horrendous thing happened because it was in a foreign land that was mystical to me. But actually being there in Berlin, it absolutely wrecked me. I was having an amazing experience, but my heart was heavy the entire trip and still after when we arrived to London. Because of this, I didn't really want to take any more photos. You'll notice that this blog post is almost over, even though we still had another 4 days in London.
Berlin wrecked me and it changed me. Humanity and the world can be absolutely awful. But there is hope and we have to be the change we want to see in the world. We can never allow history to be repeated. We have to remember the past.
DAY 11- Our second to last day. Ellen brought us to her favorite place: Camden. I've heard so many stories and all about it, but never been. There were food trucks EVERYWHERE. So many places to eat, we had to pace ourselves. There were only two kinds of food that mattered to me that I ate in Camden; had the best CHEESE FRIES OF MY LIFE and VEGAN COOKIE DOUGH. I wanted to cry they were so amazing. I crave them every day. If you're ever in Camden, highly suggest checking out The Green Dough to have a food orgasm.
Probably one of my favorite moments on the entire trip was drinking a Desperado out on a bar patio overlooking Camden Town. It was cold, but sharing a beer with my two favorite people on the planet will always be a time to remember for me.
London, it's been real. I'll always long to come back to you, but really won't miss the exchange rate of the US dollar to the pound. This was truly my first time traveling. I know it's cliche, but traveling really does change you. So long Europe, I'll see you soon.