Around Berlin: Abandoned Ice Factory in Kreuzberg

Berlin is a "beautiful" city in it's own unique way. If you're a history nerd, there's no denying Berlin's role in shaping the last century and subsequently, it's absolutely fascinating. History is literally on every single corner. I like any place where wacky and weird is celebrated and Berlin's alternative vibe seems less untouched that it's comparative counterparts like Amsterdam and Paris.

During our long-weekend in Berlin, I wanted to wander the Kreuzberg area which is known as the ultimate alternative spot of the already very alternative city. Think funky cafes, abandoned urban architecture and counterculture squats and so on. But since we did this trip 'spontaneously' the day got away from us and we ended up drinking margaritas all night instead of continuing our urban exploring. No complaints there!

First things first, we checked out the East Side Gallery and then, we stopped for a drink at Yaam, a laid back, beach inspired bar along the Spree River and just next to the outdoor gallery.

East Side Gallery

Our first stop during our wander through Kreuzberg was a graffiti covered, abandoned factory which we spotted from the metro upon our arrival to this side of town. We wandered along the river Spree, through a patch of woods which was covered in rubbish and rats and stunk of urine, giving us some insight for what was ahead. What exactly was that you ask? Well, a squatters 'village' of tents and teepees and a sign declaring the one and only community rule: "No public masturbation." Good to know. 

Needless to say, we made out way past the not so friendly, tattooed campers/squatters quite quickly as they clearly weren't welcoming or interested in giving us some background info on the building. In fact, I felt really awkward wandering through what was basically someone's 'living room' like a wide eyed tourist. Technically this was public property but we definitely didn't fit in, good thing curiosity got the best of us. 

Moving on, we headed straight into the aforementioned abandoned factory and were in awe that a building which somehow survived two world wars has been left in such disrepair. Later, we learned from a local that this was in fact an Eisfabriek (ice factory) dating back to 1914! The building was still in use well into the 1990's.

Naturally, we headed inside to explore. There were remnants of old machinery in place, absolutely saturated in graffiti, and it was fascinating peak around. Have a look for yourself...

After carefully circling in and out of the massive halls, up and down the rickety stairs (while snapping a ton of photos) we found the rooftop which was filled with a variety of hipster groups with an expected arrogance. In one corner, guys with bikini tops and animal masks were getting a party started, across from them a photo shoot was taking place, further along a few kids were having a blast propelling rocks off the roof. We settled in the fourth corner to take in a view of the river and the Berlin Tower in the distance.

Given the rooftop views, I definitely understand why someone would want to hang out here or even take over the property. It's a prime location along the river, in an alternative but up and coming area of town. I just wish they'd preserve the heritage of this old building and keep some of the city's history alive. Coming from a city like Orlando where almost nothing is more than 40 years old I can't stress enough the importance of utilizing a city's history to encompass growing in a new direction.  If you're Berlin, definitely check it out while you can, who knows when the Eisfabriek will be turned into something else with far less character. 

Still curious? Read more about the abandoned Eisfabriek here and here.

.

Around Amsterdam: City Snapshots

I'd like to take a moment to appreciate Friday's arrival.

This week dragged on while I attempted to fight off what's hopefully my last terrible cold of this winter season. On top of feeling generally gross, the weather here has been an irregular mix of dark looming clouds, fluffy snow flakes and beads of hail slightly interspersed with gorgeous blue skies and sunshine.

And in case you were curious, the combination of congestion and being pelted in the face with stinging bits of hail whilst riding a bike isn't pleasant

at all.

Now you know glamorous life is in Amsterdam!

Despite the irrational weather and feeling as gloomy as the clouds up above, I seem to find at least an ounce of daily inspiration in this darling city. The cobblestones and canals over here certainly have a special way of making little moments more pleasant and I often find myself hopping off my bike to capture a scene mid-commute.

 It's all about seeing the glass

half-full

, right??

 Here are a few different views from the past week...

Go ahead and have your crazy weather now, Amsterdam,

but please bring some 

warmer temperates, sunshine and spring

!

Clearly, I'm hoping for a cosy, relaxing weekend but what about you? 

Visiting Nancy, France

This past summer, I toured the Alsase Lorraine region of France with my mom and two of her best friends who so graciously had us as guests on their canal boat.

During the trip, we cruised the canalsstopped in little cities along the way, and wandered the countryside.

We also spent a few days exploring Nancy by day and sipping red wine on the boat in the evenings. Here are a few snapshots plus, three things you may not have known about the city...

First, the Baroque architecture of Palais de Stanislas dates back more than 250 years. Today, this pedestrian square is a World Heritage Site.

Second, the city's famous local sweet treat, Bergamote de Nancy, are candies that taste a bit like earl grey tea (from the citrusy bergamot). A surprising discovery: these are also the bergamottes from one of my favorite films, Amelie!

Third, in the 1870s, my favorite art style, art nouveau, came alive right here in Nancy. Tres Magnifique! Unfortunately, the Musee de l'Ecole de Nancy wasn't open during our summer visit. Such a bummer! We had to settle for street views of art nouveau architecture which, was just fine with me.

Oh, and how darling is my mama? She is also a Nancy!

Canal Boating in France

I never take for granted how lucky I am to have an adventurous mom who can fly anywhere at the drop of a hat (hint: she's a flight attendant).

She often pops over to

Amsterdam

 for a visit and we've taken countless trips around the world together.

Better yet, her jet-set lifestyle has cultivated a wonderful network of fun, interesting friends who provide excellent adventure opportunities all over the globe.

Jack and Sue, are some of my mother's long time pals and (fortunately for us!) one of the many boats they own resides in France. Just like my mama, I'm always up for a new adventure so, when I was invited to tag long for their annual summer boat trip, the answer was an enthusiastic "YES!"

The four of us spent a week together, floating along canals in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.

We had a week of gorgeous sunshine, stopped to browse delightful French villages, savored local flavors and of course, I snapped photos along the way.

Enjoy!

First, we flew into Strasbourg from Amsterdam, and rode the train north to

Sarguimmines

passing through country scenes...

Later, we slept along dreamy canals (this was my favorite spot!)..

We stopped in villages and wandered markets, full of fresh goods...

And passed adorable, historic lock houses like these...

 Wouldn't it be fun to open a little cafe

for boaters and cyclists along the historic towpaths?

Daily, we indulged in scrumptous treats...

And surveyed the scenes, visiting small villages along the canals...

With only four of us, everyone had a task to do in helping the boat in-and-out-and-up-and-down the locks. Actually, this was the first time I'd ever even been in a lock before!

Some of them were occuring often, making for a pretty busy afternoon of boat riding.

I'll be back with more soon, in the mean see check out this map of where we visited...

View

Alsace-Lorraine Canal Boat Trip

in a larger map

Have you ever visited the Alsace-Lorraine area?

 This trip was very go-with-the-flow so I didn't do much research before-hand. Do you usually research a vacation or just

wing-it

?