Berlin Bakers Against Racism – Photos

I decided to buy some baked goods and sweets. 100% of the proceeds donated to Equal Justice Initiative and KOP-Berlin.

I ordered some homemade salted caramel sauce, brownies, and these Portuguese sweet muffin typical of the Azores Islands called Bolo Levedo. They ran out of Zucchini cake which was vegan and replaced it with some Oreos.

Learning German B1.3 with Lingoda, still with them since January 2019! (+ promo code at the end)

I have been with Lingoda for a while now, and originally I was planning to finish the B1 level by the end of last year but I have had to take a some weeks off here and there, depending on other circumstances. At the moment, I am still making some good progress with B1.3! The important thing is that I am still making some progress, and still learning German at my own pace that suits me..

I decided to actually take some time off one evening and do all my notes in advance. This means, going through the PDF, copying and pasting the materials there so that when it is time to go through the assignments, in-class notes and more, it is all ready for me. Below is how busy I was doing some of the B1.3 classes!

On another note, I was surprised to find out that this month it looks like a couple of people have used the promotional code which means they get 50 euros off and I get 5 free group classes. This has been really great, as I thought about pausing June completely for a small break. Thank you for using the promo code!

Promo code is FYUVJH

While the online classes is not for everyone, we all have to be online. I still have to adjust my learning style to practice free speaking German because I find that my reading and perhaps writing skills are a bit better. But for me personally, I really need the classes in order to be accountable, quiet a few times where I feel a bit discouraged and don’t want to learn anymore. But, just keep on pushing!


Late post: Belgrade, Serbia, January 2020

Definitely a city that I’d like to come back to, I only manage to spend just half a day here after a long trip/stopover in Abu Dhabi when I came back to Germany from Australia.

I’d love to come back to the designer and creative industries districts here, as well as sights and museums.

A city of contrasts between multiple opposing perspectives, you can feel the tension…

And with it, a youthful and creative spirit…

Late Post: Around Oslo 2019 – Viking Ship Museum, Norsk Folkemuseum and walking around the City…

Late last year, I went around Oslo. It was my first time in the small but beautiful city. Unfortunately, I was only there for about 24 hours as it was a stop on the way to Lillehammer but I did manage to capture a few photos.

I would definitely come back to take a trip around the fjords, the sauna and more.

Viking Ship Museum at Bygdøy 

There were also other artifacts, like this ancient Viking sleigh.

Norsk Folkemuseum – Norsk Folkemuseum (Oslo open air museum)

In this open air museum, you can walk around and inside what could have been buildings from the past, dated back to a certain period. I don’t have all the details with me but I highly recommend this. It was also a short walk from the Viking Ship Museum.

Walking around Oslo city…

This post was part of a trip that took me around Lillehammer:

Around Friedrichshain, Boxhagener Platz, Berlin, with COVID-19 lockdowns easing a bit…

May 30

Walk around Friedrichshain, Berlin. There was also a market set up for the weekend, where I bought a spinach/feta type of wrap and some sort of sweet cake with apple and meringue.

  • Bronze (?) plates they place in front of homes of Jews that were deported to Auschwitz by the #Nazi
  • A spinach and feta type wrap from a stall (in front is the very busy park)
  • Friedricshain street
  • A store selling face masks
  • A collection of water cans at a cemetery

May 28:

I recently moved apartments to Mitte and decided to spend an hour or two walking around Boxhagener Platz. I don’t usually come here, and I might have only been through Boxhagener Platz properly once during the day, a couple of times at night. Boxhagener Platz etched into my mind as to what Berlin is like for my first time moving here early 2017 and I am a bit disappointed that it took a few years and a move to do the stroll around.

You can see from the photos some remnants – limitations of a few people only inside the store and one must wear mouth/nose coverings inside. I grabbed a macaron and an ice cream, the ice cream place like the other places during the restrictions had a small table outside for you to order.

The business owners look relaxed and relieved, not stressed, people cautiously outside. Not completely normal but getting close to it.

The restaurants are also open now, at least a majority of it, some seating arrangements being made to make sure that there are less crowds. I am not sure how things are going to be like when the travel borders open between the EU countries. Right now, we’re at a wait and see moment but I have a lot of trust that the right things will be done by everyone.

Brisbane, January 2020

I was in Brisbane twice, both in January 2020, mainly to catch up with a couple of friends.

Much of the city has been largely the same, but with some new developments. It has been since early 2012 that I last lived there, but I would say it was more like 2011 since I was largely out of Brisbane by that year.

I was not sure as to when I would be back again though.

Anyone that is able can travel, but living in a new country is a whole new challenge

For me, I like challenges. It was not enough to travel (solo, most of the time) at different countries. Travel is now just a few clicks away. The ‘Instagrammification’ of experiences has made anyone a travel ‘enthusiast’ so long as they have a good enough mobile or camera to catch the experience.

But, it’s a whole new challenge to live in a country. To talk to the people there, learn the language, learn the systems (from tax to health care), the culture (of work, pleasure, community).

2019 marked what was probably a year of moving and being a digital nomad type after several years spent (since 2011) – first working a bit remotely in my first solo trip which was Canada. Then followed by the UK, the first time I lived overseas fully. Then, back to Canada again, Ireland, Germany, France and finally back to Germany.

I treated the whole thing as this large, long term personal project. Pushing my own personal and professional limits, making sacrifices along the way to chase opportunities. A lot of advance planning took place, while helpful, made my place in the world a bit more fleeting. As it should be. I wanted to build a life that is just purely uncommon, a life that is clearly “21st century expat”. I’m sure and perhaps there will be more opportunities to come.

The journey continues.

Stasi Museum – Germans spying on Germans, psychological warfare (Zersetzung)

Zersetzung is a psychological warfare technique used by the Ministry for State Security to repress political opponents in East Germany during the 1970s and 1980s. Zersetzung served to combat alleged and actual dissidents through covert means, using secret methods of abusive control and psychological manipulation to prevent anti-government activities.

The museum is divided into three levels and several portions dedicated to a portion of the Stasi history.

The use of Zersetzung is well documented due to Stasi files published after East Germany’s Wende, with several thousands or up to 10,000 individuals estimated to have become victims,[3]:217 and 5,000 of whom sustained irreversible damage.[4] Special pensions for restitution have been created for Zersetzung victims.

One of the signs that you see when you first enter the area. The Stasi Museum is located in the former headquarters of the Stasi. The museum is operated by the Antistalinistische Aktion Berlin-Normannenstraße (ASTAK),[3] which was founded by civil rights activists in Berlin in 199
In this exhibition is a story of a woman who actually married an MfS (Stasi) agent who was assigned to conduct surveillance on her. The couple decided to defect to the GDR.
The family did not learn that they were being watched by the Stasi until 17 years after the Mauerfall (Fall of the Berlin Wall). It was only by chance that they realize that the Stasi installed a hidden wiretap in a discarded living room door for them to listen in on the family’s conversations.
In this are some fairly ordinary looking objects – a belt, flask, stereo (for music) but they all held devices to take photos. There were numerous other examples of these being modified by the Stasi to conduct surveillance.
A watering can and the camera installed within.
A shopping bag used to disguise a camera
The shopping bag from the above photo takes photos – here are some examples
This device makes it easy for the Stasi to scan documents found inside households that they have entered – either covertly or as part of an official investigation.

Other links:

Berlin Friedrichshain Weihnachtsmarkt

Really delicious dish – deep fried pastry with sour cream, shaved cheese, roasted garlic. Also a really hot gluhwein.

It’s actually my first time in the area. I arrived about 30 minutes earlier so I took a walk around Simon-Dach-Strasse around the shops including Bad Robot.

Luxembourg over four days

I was busy during the four days – taking a day trip to Beaufort and Echternacht and didn’t really spend that much time around the shops, museums or galleries.

Luxembourg is definitely a place that I would like to come back again, largely because of all the various villages that are very close nearby that you can explore.

Echternacht, Luxembourg

Echternacht is only a one hour bus ride from Luxembourg. Bus tickets were only 4 euros for the whole day and this covered the small city-country, which was great.

The town itself reminded me a lot of regional France, although I overheard German more spoken by the locals.

The town grew around the Abbey of Echternach, which was founded in 698 by St Willibrord, an English monk.

One of the things that you can do here is to relax in the small town centre with a local beer, or take a walk around the river which I did.

Beaufort, Luxembourg

Once you arrive in Echternacht, you can take a very short bus trip to Beaufort which features a castle that was originally built in the 12th century.

Here’s a cat greeting me:

I took the longer way, making my way around the town for a short while..

Before finding a winding path down to the chateau. The good thing about taking the long way is that you come across this walkway along a grassy area..

Which then leads to a very picturesque view of the chateau from the ground.

There is an option to see only the chateau itself, as well as the ‘Renaissance’ part. I opted to see the chateau, a ticket was about 5 euros.

You up inside the castle which overlooks a part of the town.

Maihaugen Open Air Museum, Lillehammer

The Maihaugen open air museum is definitely worth a trip while in Lillehammer. According to their website, more than 200 houses are recreated from a number of periods, as early as 12th century.

Part of the trip involved reenactments from period actors in the ‘open houses’. For example, if you go inside a house there would be a person from the period talking about baking cinnamon rolls but she would provide a recipe for the time. There was also another actor from the 80s, including wearing 80s make-up, talking about their life to the visitors. If you ask them questions, they would answer as suitable to the time. For example, ask a 1950s ‘resident’ of the open house a question about fiber optics and they would not know how to answer.

The overall tour took about 2 to 2.5 hours.

Historical Oslo – Norsk Folkemuseum / Open-Air Museum and Viking Ship Museum

Norsk Folkemuseum Open-Air Museum

The Norsk Folkemuseum is most definitely well worth a visit while in Oslo and Norway in general. It is a bit offsite from the main city centre but it is worth the trek either via as part of a tour, via public transport, car, bike, and so on. This area even has some grazing fields where I spotted sheep and horses.

The Sámi people

One of the exhibitions, and mentioned in some of the houses, is of the Sámi people. The Sámi people are a Finno-Ugric people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses large parts of Norway and Sweden, northern parts of Finland, and the Murmansk Oblast of Russia. There are still groups today, also speaking the language, but their existence were challenged due to Norwegianization attempts by the government some time ago.

Life in a 1800s farm

In the summer, visitors can see some activity going on around a 1800s farm.

For your amusement, a video I took this afternoon of a group of Smålens Geese aka Norwegian Spotted Geese waddling along with their caretakers at Bjørnstad, a large farm from Vågå, #Norway from the 1700’s.

According to their website, the Norsk Folkemuseum is located at Bygdøy in Oslo and has an Open-Air Museum with 160 historic buildings. The museum focuses on the time period from 1500 until present time, and in-door exhibits feature Norwegian folk costumes, folk art, church art and Sami culture. Temporary exhibits, audience programs and activities for children all year.

Norsk Folkemuseum Buildings

Unfortunately there was too much detail involved with the buildings and the history so I only have photos to offer. I would recommend looking their website to read more on the details.

Finnmark 1950s building

Viking Ship Museum

About a few minutes walk from from Maihaugen is the Viking Ship Museum which is composed of a few actual Viking ships which were discovered as burial ships as well as accompanying relics.

Luckily on offer were full-sized ships that have been restored. So much so that you can really smell the wood and finishings. Unfortunately, other items were already plundered at the time of discovery but they managed to get some bits and pieces – a piece of cloth here, in one case only the nails left.

One of the practical/ceremonial sleighs found in the Gokstad viking ship as part of items that were included in a burial.
The Oseberg viking ship. The Oseberg ship was built in southwestern Norway around the year 820, and is made of oak.
The Oseberg viking ship.
The Gokstad ship was built around 890 AD, at the height of the Viking period.  Around approximately 900 AD, a rich and powerful man died, and the Gokstad ship was used for his burial.
The Gokstad viking ship and person for scale.