Heart It Races
Traveling is a privilege I definitely cherish and it’s pretty crazy how I’m able to visit some place new every year. Don’t ask me about my bank account or my savings because it’s a sad conversation — and believe me, I know I should be paying better attention, but I can’t pass up a travel opportunity and this year, it came in the form of a wedding.
My cousin’s cousin, Patricia (also my namesake and awesome person who lived in Singapore for a bit) fell in love and married Nikos, who is clearly Greek. When I found out they were getting married in Athens, I knew it was my chance to visit. And what started out as Greek trip, turned out to be so much more.
Traveling with a baby is not easy. I’m super in awe of how my cousin pulled it all off (and consdiering their luggage was lost the entire time we were there) and still looked sane and alive and not killing people in the end.
Seeing Athens with a baby was also interesting because we took our time. We may not have hit all the tourist spots but we definitely saw things differently. I appreciated different things about the Agora or the Museum. Seeing things through my godson’s eyes and pace was a refreshing way to see Athens. We rested more and spent more time exploring things I probably would have ignored otherwise. It’s not something I’m used to but it’s something I could get used to.
The entire time I’d be walking around, seeing the Acropolis from every possible angle, I would pinch myself. Like, you’re really here?! I would see these in books! How could I actually be here walking on the marbled floors and seeing these ruins in real life? It was quite surreal.
The food was also amazing. My cousin marrying a Greek means the food was legit and the wine never stopped. The day before the wedding, we went to this unassuming looking restuarant for a pre-wedding brunch and we didn’t stop eating. Literally, they kept bringing out food as it was pouring out of my ears. But they were lovely and showed so much hospitality, I couldn’t say no. And the food was just too yummy.
The wedding itself was beautiful, too. Patricia and her sisters are crazy hilarious and I had the most fun laughing with them. I kind of want to marry a Greek guy now if only to have my wedding in the Greek countryside. I didn’t expect anything less from Patricia who is fabulous as always but, this place just made me swoon. Next time I’m in Greece, I will definitely visit the islands. I’m sad I didn’t get to do it this time around, but I know there will be a next time.
People ask me: why Helsinki? And honestly at first, it was just the last of Scandinavia, the country I missed out on last year. But now that I’ve been, the answer really is: why not? Despite the extreme cold (it was 4 degrees celsius at night, guys. I am a tropical girl. I knew I was screwed when I got out of the train and saw the locals wearing bonnets and down jackets!!!), it was such a lovely town.
It was so incredibly walk-able, I kind of regretted buying a multiple day pass for commuting. I ended up not regretting this because on my second day, it was raining all day and so miserably cold, that I was happy to be able to bus and train around EVERYWHERE even if I could literally just walk it.
I’ll be honest, the only thing I knew about Helsinki was the band named Architecture in Helsinki — and I’ll be honest, I took extra care to look at the actual architecture! I went on an architectural walk! It was glorious. So when I actually walked around and saw how beautiful the places were and how you couldn’t feel the sun even if you could see it, and ate tons and tons of fish, it endeared me to the city more.
I took a ferry to Suomenlinna and I was again, not prepared for how cold the wind was (I bought a new layer every day at H&M), the super clear blue sky and the fields of green were just such a nice change of pace. I could see how people lived there and worked there, but I could also see how they would do other things. Like saunas.
I know Saunas can be unisex and naked, but I didn’t think I could go that far, so I went for a unisex clothed one and it was just as interesting. None of my own pictures could do Loyly justice and so I will just link to you this gorgeous wooden architectural gem on the coast of a very cold body of water. And what they do is they make you go into the steaming hot sauna, and walk out into the cold air and dunk your body in to the 6 degrees celsius sea. I’m not kidding.
People were swimming and enjoy, I could barely dip my whole body because of the shock of the cold water. But it was fun and interesting and I did it a couple of times until I thought my body couldn’t do it anymore. How they do this naked, I don’t know, but maybe next time, I’ll find out.
I didn’t quite know what to expect from Berlin because I’ve heard all about how cool it was. I didn’t want to keep my hopes up but Berlin delivers. It’s way too cool. Every person had a septum ring. If you didn’t have a shaved head, why were you existing? I kid, of course, but I don’t kid about the part wherein I felt very uncool — in the best way possible.
Because despite everyone being utterly badass, they were all very welcoming and non-judgmental. In my normal state, I was able to enjoy the city and see things from a very local perspective thanks to the help of friends like Jenny and Roy who have the most gorgeous home; and Kriztel and Maik who I finally meet after years of missing each other in our places of work and the town we live in.
It all felt very gritty and real and exactly how I’d seen it from watching too much Berlin Station — too bad there was no Richard Armitage spotting. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t mind going back to Berlin and sitting down in the park or walking around with a beer in hand. This open carry of alcohol was beyond me and though I wasn’t exactly craving a beer, just the fact that I could do it, I definitely did.
I also probably had way too many curry wursts (wrong — you can never have too many), and ate way too many sausages over-all, it was a great experience walking through Kreuzberg and seeing both sides of the wall.
This was probably one my less hectic trips to Europe just because I didn’t try to cram as many things as possible (the way I usually do). Is this me maturing as a traveler? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to go back, hopefully soon.