Wars and conflicts are never a good thing directly, even in the case of a city like Berlin, one can still see some indirect implications from the city being divided for such a long time. Now, often the implications of war and dividing cities and countries are obviously not good, but the one thing that can be indirectly linked to the city being divided is that the rent prices and living expenses have not risen as fast as in some other areas of the country. Why I bring this up is that I have recently gotten the pleasure of enjoying rooftop parties at my friends place, or their “commune”, if you will. For some people rooftop parties might be an everyday thing, more common than the usage of “like” as a substitute for commas in the speech of some unnamed nationalities, but for me they are still a rarity.
In Finland the only people that can afford rooftop apartments with massive terraces, are usually the people who do not have to look at the floor level shelves at the supermarket when going shopping. Here in Berlin, “regular” people can afford to enjoy the luxury of seeing the sun set far away, creating silhouettes of the city on its way down, atop your own apartment. Even though, it is still very possible to live in a rooftop apartment, there are not enough of them to go around for everyone. However, with good luck you might know someone who has a rooftop terrace place, as I did.
It wasn’t the first time I visited my friends pad, but it was the first time I remembered to bring my camera with me. Even though the night started to fall upon us nearly immediately as I had arrived to the rooftop, thanks to my swift moves and fast camera handling, I was able to capture a couple of these “rooftop moments” onto my camera, before the fat ball of fire that we nickname the Sun could fully dive behind the skyline.
We noticed with my friend,after jumping a fence to another rooftop (for a better pic) that the party seemed to follow us and that we had unintentionally created a gathering of amateur photographers on the roof of a curious neighbour, probably wondering why he hears noises of shutters clicking and people laughing through his roof. Nevertheless, everyone behaved and did the same as we, took memories of this great city that one cannot buy from a gift shop at the Brandenburg Gate.
Once again this Saturday had given me yet more reasons to contemplate on staying in Berlin even longer than merely till the end of this, seemingly short, year.
Even though I thoroughly enjoy living in Berlin, with all its big city related atmosphere, I have to still say that I have been really happy to be “home” for a couple of weeks.
Here in Finland, where we are used to cold temperatures, the Summer is always an anticipated time of the year when people head to their Summer houses to chill and relax for a while. Sitting in the Sauna and enjoying the peaceful landscapes gives one’s head a much needed rest.
Obviously scenery is always much more impressive, when seen by one’s own eyes, however despite this fact, I attempted to capture the Finnish Summer in pictures, hopefully being able to give you a slight impression of what our Summer here up north is normally like.
I will add in a couple of posts to come some of the photos I have taken here in Finland during my stay, starting today with scenes from our family’s summer house. These photos hopefully not only provide you with a glimpse of what I have been experiencing here, but also for myself they will work as a reminder of what home is like in the summer time.
Our Bus journey accompanied by the exotic movies and loud neighbours went surprisingly well, although at times it did feel like a never ending journey. Alongside the rising sound volume of our fellow passengers we had the privilege of enjoying stunning views from the bus as we passed cities such as Bratislava and others that I cannot for the life of me remember at this stage.
As we began to get closer to our destination the foreign “adventure” films switched to children’s movies, which continued to baffle us, seeing that by glancing through the bus and its passengers there was nobody of that age who could have requested “the adventures of the random German speaking polar bear” (I’m guessing that was the title of the film). Not only had the movie selection seen a change, but so had the status of our neighbours. From that of speaking a hundred words per second, they had gone to the “laid back”- mode, meaning that they were leaning their seats on top of our knees, thrusting the seats to recline more, not seeming to realise that what stopped their seats from reclining any further were my bruised knees. It seemed as if they cared as much of our thumping on their seats as we had cared for the movies shown on-board.
After coming to terms with the fact that our fellow travelers had no interest in our well being, as if a sign from above we heard the on-board speakers tell us through a lot of words that we were indeed only a few short kilometers from Budapest. At long last, with bruised knees, tired bodies and minds we had arrived at some station in Budapest. Having thought previously that the station would be centrally located, we had not cared to browse through maps or make route plans….we should have.
We found our way in the middle of the night to a metro station, hoping to find a map and clear guidance towards the center. After following a herd of people, we merely crossed our fingers in hope of jumping on the right train which would at the least take us slightly closer to our hostel. I am not a superstitious person per se, but I believe it was the luck of the Irish (or better yet my Irish mate) that enabled us to manage our way through all the crossroads and alleyways safely to our hostel, where our two Slovenian friends awaited us with cold beers, that we had most definitely deserved.
The first night went by quickly as we caught up on missed conversations and had a few pints at a local tavern. We did also have time to acquaint ourselves with the local law enforcement. It is pure commonsense that what goes in must eventually come out as well. As we were browsing around the city at night, one of our crew had the sudden urge to relieve himself and seeing that there was not an open tavern nor a portapotty in sight, he ran to the nearest bushes in a nearby alleyway as the rest of us waited for him on the mainstreet. We found a nice bench on the sidewalk and decided to hang there for a moment. It was not long as we saw our friend appear from the alley, hinting to us that “we should move”. We only realised what he had meant, when we saw two officers appearing from the alley with a batman like serious face on. “Passports”, yelled the older one of the partners, and as if trained dogs we did as told and whipped our proofs of nationality and identity out for them to collect our data. Once they had gossiped our numbers and info to their colleagues via walkietalkies, they left us with valid advice “this street, not a toilet”. Needless to say we kept their advice in mind during the remain of the trip.
The next day we decided to be true tourists, eating a continental breakfast (prepared by ourselves) and heading out to explore the city. Now as most people hopefully know, Finland is not a beach holiday destination ergo we do not have extremely hot weather, aside from the summer time. In Budapest already in the Hostel I had noticed that the weather seemed to be awfully warm, but it did not cross my mind that we would be seeing the sights of Budapest in 36 degree weather (Celsius). As I left Berlin, I had foolishly thought to not even pack my shorts with me. I tried to make the best of my situation by pulling up my pants, trying to desperately make them become the shorts they clearly were not. At this stage I have to be frank and admit that there was not a lot of talking done during the sightseeing day, everyone was merely trying to survive the hot weather, thus I will let the pictures do the talking for this day:
We spent the entire next day laying motionlessly at a lake we had made our way to by car, only returning to Budapest in the evening to change hostels quickly (due to booking issues) and immediately embarking on a pub crawl as we arrived at our new party hostel. Before we had even really settled at our new residences, we were already enjoying beverages in numerous local bars and pubs, being led by a baywatch-style chilled out Aussie, who seemed as calm and cool as a Koala. Enjoying the comparably affordable drink prices we spent the night touring the nightlife of Budapest, which I have to say was extremely good.
Air conditioning, AC, whatever you want to call it – I love it. The first thing that hit me once I entered our room in the new hostel was the wonderful breeze of fresh COLD air, not coming from the window, oh no, but from our airconditioning. No, it did not remind me of home, being cold and chilly, but rather it gave me the possibility to enjoy a good nights rest, without sticking to my bed linen and becoming dehydrated due to the overwhelming heat. Apart from our room, we also took advantage of the round shaped balcony at our hostel, getting to know other travelers from all around the world, sharing stories and beverages with each other. For me the best thing about travelling and living abroad is the social interaction with other people from different cultures. It is always fascinating to hear about different customs and habits or personal experiences of the people I talk to.
We enjoyed one full day on our multicultural balcony, full of hockey,travel, lifestyle and other random talk. To cut things short I’ll just summarize the last few days with a few sentences. We continued to tour the night and day of Budapest (mostly Pest) for another couple of days, before embarking on our loooooong bus-ride back to the big ol’ B. We said our goodbyes to our Slovenian friends and hopped on the coach, with refrigerated coke bottles. My Irish mate was in luck apparently, since he managed to get a bottle that actually contained liquid, whereas I apparently got a limited edition coke bottle that was full of Ice, rather than cola in liquid form to quench my thirst. The journey back was as long as the way to Budapest, but far more enjoyable thanks to the numerous romantic comedies (not my favourite genre) that were played on-board for our enjoyment in English. As a combo breaker among the films was the more than fitting film “Hangover” which seemed to give a perfect ending to a trip that was to be felt physically for a couple of days to come.