My last day in Paris I did basically nothing. Well, not nothing, but I didn’t leave the apartment pretty much all day. I had been thinking I might leave Paris that day so I hadn’t really planned anything to do. And since I still hadn’t figure out where I was going next, another day in Paris it was. I slept in again (I love sleeping in! Unfortunately you don’t get to do that very often when you’re travelling) and then I spent the day once again responding to emails about the One Young Wold Summit and trying to figure out where I’d be going the next day. I’m not a super planner when it comes to my trips, but I’m also not usually so last minute about my destinations! I’ve been having such a hard time figuring out where to go and when. It’s been hard coordinating visits with people and what works best for them and for me.
I messaged a few friends to make sure it was okay with them and finally settled on Berlin the next day and then Munich for Oktoberfest! Train booked, I finally had a destination!
Antoine came back to his place that evening after school and we went to the bakery down the street to get some snacks to keep us going until we went out for a late dinner. Antoine got some of his favourite desserts for me to try: mille-feuille (or a Napoleon in English) and flan, and they were both really yummy. I ended up talking to my friend Kemi for an hour (work gossip!) and afterwards we finally went out to eat. Dinner was at this little Italian place not too far away from Antoine’s. It wasn’t really good. 🙁 Even the cocktails weren’t good! Antoine wouldn’t even drink his after a few sips, and I had to force myself to finish mine (as my friend Lindsey says, you should never waste alcohol).
I had a mushroom risotto which I didn’t really like, and of course I had forgotten that they would put parsley on top to make it look “nice”, so I spent a lot of time picking off the parsley before I could actually eat it. You would think since I HATE the taste of parsley so much and know that restaurants always sprinkle it on top, that I would remember to ask for my food to not have any. But no, I literally NEVER remember.
I can probably count on one hand the times that I have remembered, and most of the time, if I do remember, it’s because someone else has reminded me. So then my food arrives covered in parsley and I’m forced to spend half an hour carefully picking it out, because I feel too badly to ask for a new plate since I’m the one who forgot to ask to have it without. I know what you’re thinking: Mel, you’re crazy, why do you hate parsley so much, it tastes like nothing! NO, it doesn’t, not for me. For me it has a similarly yucky taste like cilantro/coriander does, and I know when it’s in my food even when I can’t see it.
Seriously, I hate that everyone feels they have to put parsley on the food to make the presentation nicer. It doesn’t actually look nicer, and I’ve never heard anyone say that it makes the food taste better (usually they just say it tastes like nothing), so can we just NOT and say we did? Anyway, parsley rant over.
So after that disappointing dinner, we started walking to the Eiffel Tower, except I started feeling sick from the gross drink and food and had to lay down on a bench.
Then a little old French lady stopped on her way to wherever to let me know that the benches are dirty and I shouldn’t lay on them, and then had to check on me when Antoine told her I was laying there because I wasn’t feeling well. When I eventually felt better we continued our journey, stopping first at Les Invalides, which is where Napoleon is buried (Antoine gave me French history lessons along the way)! We finally made it to the tower just in time for the light show! So pretty! It basically just sparkles for like 5 minutes, but I like it!
Then it was back to Antoine’s with a “free” subway ride for me (ie: jumping over the turnstile since there wasn’t a machine where I could buy a ticket). Our last night together!!! (Maybe. He made me promise to visit him again before I head home). So sad!
We had to get up ridiculously early the next morning as Antoine had an early class. Since his class was on the way to the train station, I figured I’d go with him and get him to carry my heavy backpack for me!
I sat around the train terminal for 2 hours before finally boarding my train to Berlin. It was kind of long (8 hours, with a change in Mannheim) but it wasn’t too bad. The first train was awesome: there was space for my bag on luggage rack, there was plenty of room and no one around me, so I could put my feet up on the seat across and relax and watch movies on my laptop. The second train sucked: it was super full and it was hard to find an empty seat. The luggage rack was full, so I had to put my bag in the overhead rack, but it was too big so then I had to take off the smaller bag to be able to fit the large bag up there and it was a lot of work.
I finally made it to Berlin, bought my S-Bahn ticket and got on the train to head over to my friend’s place, and all was good! Then the doors closed and one of the undercover workers asked me for my ticket, which was fine because I’d bought one. Turns out I needed to stamp it in a machine before I got on, which I hadn’t known, and so my ticket wasn’t valid. He asked for my ID and made me get off at the next stop along with one other guy. Then he told me that I will be fined €60 because I hadn’t stamped it. I argued with him, telling him that I’d just gotten off the train from Paris and that I’d bought my ticket and that I didn’t know, but he insisted I’d have to pay. Luckily his partner came along, took one look at my passport and said something in German to the first guy (I’m assuming it was something along the lines of: She’s Canadian, she bought her ticket, she didn’t know, give her a break) and he let me off with a warning. Phew, so happy!
With that over with, I managed to find my way over to Niamh’s place. It was SO amazing to see her! It’s been 11 years since we last saw each other in Dublin. And we’ve both done so much since! She spent some time traveling, she worked in Australia for a year before moving to Germany to teach, and she’s been there ever since. We spent some time catching up and then her roommate John came home. Another happy reunion, it’s also been 11 years since I last saw John. And he has also lived in many different places since I last saw him! Of course we then had to spend time reminiscing about the glory days when we all worked at Cineworld together.
Eventually we were all hungry and it was time to go out. Niamh’s Scottish co-worker arrived and we went to this Mexican place around the corner for dinner. We were then supposed to go to a drag show, but it started pissing rain and we ended up just going to the local pub the Black Raven (Rabenschwarz) instead, which was fun.
The next morning we all slept in, then sat around talking in Niamh’s bed before finally deciding to do something with the day. I decided we should have a really fun day and go visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I had walked through it before, but had never had a chance to go down and actually see the exhibit, so off we went. FYI, if you ever go there, please don’t sit on, walk on or climb the stelae (concrete slabs), no matter how tempting it is. There are signs telling you not to, but I still saw so many people doing it and it’s just so disrespectful. Also, it’s worth visiting the exhibit downstairs (which is free), it was very interesting (and of course super sad).
We went for a snack at a cafe afterwards and John’s coworker Adnan joined us, which was nice. Then we walked to a Ritter Sport chocolate shop, where you can create your own chocolate if you want! They also have shelves and shelves of their chocolates, and there were just so many flavours! I ended up buying a few, although Adnan had to stand by the door, as he has a bit of a problem with sweets and had already had too many that day, lol.
We went back to Niamh’s place to get ready, then got a cab to the Friedrichschain area, to meet up with a group of Niamh’s coworkers at Hops and Barley. We were supposed to do a sort of pub crawl, but we ended up just staying at the one place. It was really fun! I had a great time getting to know Niamh’s coworkers and the cider wasn’t too bad either! 😉
The next morning we actually got up early despite our late bedtime, since I was heading to Munich (and Oktoberfest!!!) that afternoon. We walked through this cool park called Mauerpark to get to the restaurant where we had breakfast. The park used to be part of the Death Strip and still has a 30m piece of the Berlin Wall standing there, although nowadays it has flea markets and buskers and is a great place to hang out.
After a quick breakfast, it was time to head back to Niamh’s place to grab my stuff and say goodbye. 🙁 We left a bit late (of course!) so Niamh and John walked me to the train station where we said goodbye, but then Niamh decided to come all the way to the main train station with me to make sure I wouldn’t miss the train (the main station is big and it’s easy to get lost). We ended up making it with 10 min to spare, so it’s a good thing she helped me or I probably would have missed it, lol. It was sad to say goodbye, but we had so much fun that Niamh made me promise to try and visit again before I leave, and I’m definitely going to try and make it work!
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