Better than Berlin?

It’s wet, cool to cold, grey here in Berlin.
Colombia just smashed Poland in the world cup (a little competition you might have heard about) and Berlin comes alive with an annoying amount of car horns!  To give you a sense of scale, crows flew as a flock, adding to the noise, settling themselves on the nearest tallest building.  It’s been around an hour and I imagine it’s only stopped now because the cars have pulled in somewhere to get drinks and party in a more sociable fashion.
Did this happen in your city?
I doubt it  (unless you’re in Colombia).
Berlin really is the best city in the world. It’s also the ugliest, just like some of the best actors, sportsmen, musicians, it only adds to the charm.


Brutal Drive to Berlin

We woke up early (holiday early). I was up late the night before, sorting out some IT problem for Myriam as a token of appreciation for using her house and even her printer.
Breakfast with Sinisa and Zelkja was nice but too chatty. We had to drive +400km to Berlin!

The drive began well. Mateo slept the first 2 hours.
GPS on 2 phones failed.
Baby screaming.
KFC wasn’t great like it should be.
There were construction sites and accidents on all the major Autobahns on our way.
Baby screaming.
GPS works on one phone for a section then fails. The second phone’s GPS decides to work.
GPS tandem with screaming baby.
No afternoon coffee.
7ish hours from driveway to parking area of the hotel.
Once the luggage is in, it’s almost 10pm and the parking in front of the competing hotel is free until 9am.
Do not park here, do not pay 18€.

King Tolmie of Köln

We landed safely in Düsseldorf. The final flight had over 100 seats free which enabled us to take some space to relax. Mateo flirted with all the stewardesses. He even got a few kisses.
Tolmie has lived in Köln for a few months now and has a favourite beer from the region as well as favourite places to go to for said beer and sometimes a side of food. His girlfriend is lovely. They both were very patient with us, it was very easy going with them. Sometimes, a little too much for our requirements… we normally eat breakfast during the hours before midday, they take it as the time comes. Tolmie and I talk so long about so many subjects that we were starving by the time we’d leave to get food.
We walked quite a bit, one trip down the Rhein, the rest around the more local area. Due to baby schedules, we had to abandon the lovely couple, dramatically changing their plans, so the little guy could sleep or was appropriately cared for.
Köln is very “hip”, an attempt at some of the Berlin, London, Sydney’s inner west, thang.
Tolmie’s best burgers were not a stand out.
We didn’t see the Dome.

Dis Time in Düsseldorf

We’ve been busy the last few days preparing for our trip back to Germany. We’re going to visit Tolmie in Düsseldorf before doing the tour of friendship.
 Today saw us go to Sydney for the Sydney Film Festival and to buy presents for those we didn’t already have something to give. The film we saw was a documentary called “lots of kids, a monkey and a castle”. It was a hilarious Spanish film about a family who’s Matriarch had 3 wishes when she was married: the title are the wishes. All these wishes came true. The documentary only briefly mentioned the monkey, showing a photo.
We then discovered that Paddy’s Markets in Sydney is only opened from Wednesday to Sunday. Not at all how I remember it. We also discovered that the Vietnamese Café and Bakery behind Sydney’s Central Station stirs the condensed milk into their coffee, which led Ingrid to saying that it was the worst coffee she’d ever had. We’ve been on the hunt for Vietnamese Coffee for some time, this was quite a let down.
How would you end your day? That’s a waste of time. We modified some cardboard boxes to attempt to send an artwork that’s made of glass overseas, like normal people do.
I’ll see if I get to write about the rest of our Hobbit slaying trip before Thursday or while we’re in Germany.

Queenstown to Invercargill

The morning had us meeting with Rachel and Tom for a breakfast fry-up. Rachel is an old family friend, whom I’ve known since her birth. They have been living in Queenstown for a few years, moving house twice a year, for the off season. The house that they rent during the off season is amazing, huge, great view, all of that.
We, well I, argued with a friend of theirs about driving around the south island, mostly about the time it takes to do so.
Then we set off to Invercargill. The roads take you through the most beautiful country views possible. There are rivers and lakes that are amazing blues, those oil painted mountains, lush, grass covered, rolling hills and lots of sheep.
We drove for two hours, stopped for about one hour and continued this pattern until we reached Invercargill.
Invercargill is a pretty, little city, with historic buildings, wide streets and it just feels welcoming. Our hotel hostess greeted us and was so friendly and talkative that I thought she was drunk. She did then confess that she’d had a few with other guests.
In the morning, she was exactly the same with the talking and the offering of things and the so ons. She couldn’t be nicer! Not the booze at all it seems.
If you get the chance, try to stay with them:

Just as I think about it, Queenstown is beautiful but has changed into a very tourist-y place. All of the Queenstownness is being lost to McDonalds and the many businesses that model themselves on McDonalds.

Christchurch to Queenstown

We had an interesting time at the car rental. Some strange maths occurred, where we wanted a GPS for our remaining 3 days, @ $10/day should be  $30. The girl who served us had input the GPS as per our booking, ie 4 days = $40, but seeing as we didn’t get the car on the first day, the extra day was unnecessary. She agreed and came up with a total of $12. Fine by me… I dare not try to argue with such strange arithmetic.
The drive to Queenstown is as I remember it. As soon as you leave the surrounding area of Christchurch, you are lucky if you see another car. You aren’t really concerned though because New Zealand’s South Island is beautiful. It’s pristine. It’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and much more!
The GPS didn’t quite get our accommodation address right and it was dark. The confusion was high. This was bettered by the amount of relief felt when we found the place. We’d passed it about 500m up the road.

It Could Have Gone Better

We got to the airport with not a lot of time to spare, you’re meant to be there 3 hours before departure, we were much closer to 2 hours. The lady informed us that the flight has been delayed. -_-
This began a chain of events that sucked. The flight was further delayed to just over 2 hours late. We tried to call the rental car company in NZ to inform them we’d need a much later pick up, there was no answer (we have terrible luck with phones and places – see the post about Nürnberg). We wrote to the family friends in NZ to inform them of our lateness and asked if they’d be able to call the rental company on our behalf. By the time that message was sent, the reply that the office was already closed, started a bit of that sinking feeling… We had written on the booking that we’d be there after 11pm, surely someone has to be around to answer. What do we do if no one is there? What happens to our rental car?
I’ll tell you what.
No one was there. The rental car needed to be picked up the next day.
There were no taxis, it was 2am. Our friends had no babyseat,so couldn’t pick us up. We called hotels that also didn’t have shuttles at this hour and wanted a lot of money. We walked, after 3am, with the baby-filled pram, to Jucy Snooze to pay too much money for an attempt at 5 hours sleep.