7 Myths about Turkey that are not true

Since I have made two posts about common myths in Germany and China, it’s now time to continue this with Myths about Turkey.
Some of you might know that I am of turkish heritage. My parents were both born in Turkey, but moved to Germany to work. Of course, they have built their life here, so there was no reason for them to go back to Turkey. Me and my siblings, we were all born and grew up here in Germany. Still, we always had to be confronted with misconceptions people had about Turkey and turkish people, according to what they were hearing and reading in media, which mostly is not true. I have chosen the most common misconceptions about Turkey and turkish people and its culture to debunk it once and for all.

  1. Everyone wears a headscarve

    Bildergebnis für kopftuchträger in der türkei
    tagesanzeiger.ch

    The headscarve or the hijab are, of course, a part of the turkish culture. Some wear it, most people do not. Nowadays, many people get the feeling that more and more women are being forced to wear the hijab, because they wrongly assume that the turkish president is forcing women to cover up. This is not true at all! The only difference he has done for hijabi women is giving them more rights. Before he was president, girls and women wearing a hijab were by law excluded from education and work life. This was sexism at its best, and Erdogan has changed it. He had given girls wearing a hijab the right to educate themselves. It is also a fact that many girls were forced by their parents to cover up. Giving them the right of education has prevented them from being forced to get married at a young age, and given them the independence of getting a job and deciding whether to wear the hijab or not.
    So please, do not discriminate a turkish or another muslim woman who wears the hijab out of belief. This does not mean that they are uneducated. Most of the time, hijabi women are even more educated than non-hijabi women, since education was not always a privilege for them.

  2. Vegetarians and Vegans have to stay hungry

    Bildergebnis für vegan turkish food
    Source: ashwinbahulkar.wordpress.com

    To all my vegetarian and vegan friends who plan to travel to Turkey: Do not worry at all! The most amazing dishes in Turkey are actually the vegan ones! So get ready to indulge in some of the most amazing food your palate will ever taste!
    Of course, Turkey has a lot of meaty, milky dishes and they use a lot of dairy products to accompany their non-dairy dishes (Yoghurt is life!), but the turkish cuisine is richer than you think. There are as many veg dishes as there are meaty dishes. Some of them are the most exquisite dishes ever! Including filled wine leaves (with rice and herbs), lentil balls, various, meat-free aubergine dishes, filled bell peppers (also with rice, herbs and tomatoes), various other lentil dishes, dishes including beans of all sorts, chickpeas and peas, vegetarian dumplings and turkish pizza, and many many more that I don’t even know about.

  3. The president will arrest every tourist

    Bildergebnis für erdogan
    Source: freiewelt.net

    The turkish president has probably been one of the most spoken about politicians in the last year, especially with the coup d’etat last July, the political environment in Turkey has taken yet another course in history. This was a reason for the president to arrest a lot of people who had high positions in the sections of military, law, police, media etc. Especially the amount of journalists that are sitting in turkish prisons has made foreign tourists spectical about travelling to Turkey. Also in Germany, the media kept on telling german people not to travel to Turkey, which is utter bullshit! So let me tell you this: You do not have to be afraid of travelling around Turkey. As long as you have not published a criticizing article about Erdogan or his party, you can roam around the country as you please. No one will hurt or arrest you if you respect the law.

  4. Turkey has a problem with Kurds

    Bildergebnis für Kurds in turkey
    Source: vocativ.com

    This is a very sensitive topic, and I am a little bit worried about writing this. But I do know some things about this issue. There is quite a high percentage of Kurds in Turkey who speak the language and also identify themselves as turkish citizens. Then there is the PKK, the Kurdish worker party, at least that’s how they are officially named. However, this party has caused a lot of tumult in Turkey over the last few decades. They are more commonly known as a terrorist group by now, who are fighting against Turkey and for a free Kurdistan (which does not exist on the map). So they basically want to split the eastern part of Turkey and make it their own country. And the PKK wants to reach this with violence. There have been hundreds of thousands people killed over the last 2 or 3 decades and still there does not seem to be a solution to this problem. What makes it worse is that a lot of western media outlets display the PKK as a righteous party that is being oppressed by the turkish government. All I can tell you is not to believe everything you hear on media and inform yourselves about any topic. Here is a link to a great article about this topic and other myths in Turkey.

  5. It’s dangerous to go out at night

    Ähnliches Foto
    Source: famoushostels.com

    Many people who have never been to Turkey think that it is dangerous to go out at night in Turkey. They argue that the islamic mindset makes people very disapproving of clubs and parties. But this mindset might only be true in the eastern part of Turkey. In the major big cities and beach resort towns, nightlife is bustling and the streets usually start to fill up after 10pm. Public transport is efficient, taxis are cheap and locals are usually very nice and polite, so there is nothing to scared of. Still, in big cities like Istanbul, you should do your research about the neighbourhoods to avoid, because just like in any other major big city, there are shady, dangerous side streets as well. But as long as you do your research and take care, you do not have to worry.

  6. Turkish girls are not allowed to have a boyfriend

    Ähnliches Foto
    Source: pinterest.com

    This is a prejudice that I am confronted with quite often when I date. Guys usually assume that they can’t approach me because I am turkish. And if they found out about my turkish background later on, they will always ask the typical question: “Are you allowed to have a boyfriend?” This pisses me off extremely, and the reason why I have never had a serious relationship is not because of my parents, but because of the misconceptions of german/western guys.
    Especially nowadays, turkish people are more open to relationships which is also influenced a lot by turkish drama series where love is always the main topic (as you can see on the picture which is from a popular turkish TV show). PDA and sexual topics are still a taboo, but if you ever go to Turkey, you can see loads of young couples on dates.

  7. Marriages are arranged

    Ähnliches Foto
    In the past, the bride and groom saw each other for the first time when he lifted her veil at the wedding ceremony. Nowadays, arranged marriages are slowly disappearing, but it’s still happening, in cities, villages, towns and valleys, but in a more liberal way. Young people are usually being arranged at other people’s weddings where the cousin of the aunt of the mother knows some other far relative of a young, single woman and arranges them to meet and go on dates and so on. Still, a high percentage of young turks is meeting at school or at work, some even online or during parties. And as you could read unter the first point of this post, another big group of forced marriage is dwindling. Including child marriage, which is now against the law and can be punished with a prison penalty.

  8. Alcohol is prohibited

    Bildergebnis für raki sofrasi
    Source: youtube.com

    There are some new restrictions about buying and consuming alcohol in public, but Turkey is still a country that has its own national alcoholic beverage which is Raki. It is a spirit made out of Anis and grapes. It is one of the alcoholic beverages with the highest percentage of alcohol. That’s why it is typically mixed with water. People love to drink this while eating dish or a various selection of meze platters. If you ever happen to be in Turkey, do not miss out on this activity, ideally with some locals that you know and some live music.

  9. Turkish people are arabic

    Bildergebnis für arab turks
    Source: quora.com

    Many western people assume that turkish people are part of the arabic heritage which is not exactly true. Most arab countries like Egypt, UAE, Iran, Iraq etc are homogeneous which means that they didn’t have many influences from different cultures. Turkey, on the other hand is a country with a mixture of different ethnological backgrounds, from greeks, jews, arabs, mongols, uzbeks, various balkan countries, and even jews. Not all turks have dark hair and dark skin. There are many blond, blue-eyed turkish people living in Turkey, and the majority of turkish people are brunette with a wheat-coloured skin tone. The religion, and some dishes are the only things that arabs and turks have in common.

As you can see, this post has gotten rather long. Of course, the reason for this is that as a turkish person living in a western country, I haven been personally confronted with most of these misconceptions directly. Most of the time it is annoying, and I realize more and more how ignorant people are about foreign cultures. It also made me stronger and gave me a stronger identity of my turkish heritage that I am proud of.

What I can say to everyone reading this is: Do not believe in myths and misconceptions about any culture. Do your own research, read more articles, blog posts, talk to locals, and travel to these places, not as tourists but as adventurers. This is the best thing to prevent racism, intolerance and ignorance!

I hope you enjoyed this!

Thanks for reading! And see you next time!

Merveille.

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Trippy Temple Lights in Chengdu!

Now, I have finally uploaded a video that is more like a vlog since I am also talking more and telling what we’re doing and where we are going.

This video also has subtitles (German and Turkish) since I am obviously also talking more.

I think it’s easier to vlog when you are with someone since it won’t appear too awkward when you’re talking on your own or filming yourself :D

So I think that’s also one reason why I am talking so much in this one.

Here you can watch it:

As always, thanks for watching and reading!

Merveille.

7 Myths about Germany that are not true

Lately, I have been struggling to live in Germany. A lot of the things really annoy me here since I have been back from China, and I am in a constant state of wanderlust. Still, Germany is the country I was born and grew up in, and this past year I got to explore a lot of amazing german cities and most of them were pretty amazing. So I thought I would show some “Heimatliebe” (home country love) and debunk some of the most common myths about my home country.

  1. All Germans are Nazis
    Bildergebnis für er ist wieder da
    Source: constantin-film.de

    Of course, there is the NPD (the nationalists party) in Germany that is actually a legal party that can be elected into the Bundestag, and I guess there are many Nazis all around the world (I am looking at you America!), still I would say that this is not true about Germany. We have racist and intolerant people everywhere, the more fascist people demonstrate on the streets, the more people will oppose them in bigger numbers to celebrate culture and international influences. I did experience my share of every day intolerance in Germany about my turkish background, but nowadays, I am trying to get over it as long as I am not being insulted or physically threatened.

  2. The trains are efficient and always on time
    Bildergebnis für deutsche bahn
    Source: stern.de

    Many foreigners think that the train system is as good as the car manufacturing in Germany, but I have to disappoint you: The trains are always late, drive rarely, are dirty, always have technical issues, and they are more expensive than taking the frigging plane! I just hate these trains by now! I had been taking them for around 5 years now, almost every day, and they have been annoying me so much! They are actually one of the reasons I wanna leave this country :’D

  3. Germans walk around in leather pants and Dirndl every day
    Ähnliches Foto
    dw.com

    The only time germans (and with this, I don’t mean ALL germans. Some of them don’t like these clothes at all) will wear their traditional clothes is at the octoberfest or spring fest, or on occasional festivities.

  4. Germans only drink beer and eat sausage
    Bildergebnis für german beer and sausage
    LifestyleAsia.com

    Okay, germans do eat a lot of sausage and beer counts as a full meal in some south german cities. But there are actually a lot of vegetarians and vegans here, and many people (guys included) who would rather drink wine or a fizzy cocktail than beer. Many girls prefer white wine over beer and I have met some guys who’d rather drink a cocktail than a beer, especially during parties in big clubs. Beer is more of a relax/barbeque/football drink.

  5. Germans don’t shave
    Bildergebnis für german women dont shave
    Source: everydayfeminism.com

    If you go to Berlin, you might find a lot of “hairy” women who pretend to shave just as a rebellious act against sexist social norms set towards women and how society thinks they should look like. Then again, there are a lot of people from different backgrounds living in Berlin, and because of its liberal, queer mindset, Berlin might be one of the most tolerant cities around the world, both towards foreigners and gay/queer/trans people. If I look at a normal german suburban town like the one I am living at, it’s the exact opposite: If I were to walk around with unshaved legs and armpits, people would give me looks. Everyone in Germany is shaved! This myth has been formed in the 80s when feminism was born and the free body culture was gaining popularity, which leads me to the next myth:

  6. Germans only go to FKK beaches (nude beaches)
    Ähnliches Foto
    haveltourist.de

    Germans can be very tolerant when it comes to being natural and accepting nudity. There are actually a lot of nude beaches and thermal baths that have textile free days and hours, but there are many young germans who can’t cope with this situation here either. I feel like it’s more the older generation that practices this or new-age hippies. Also in changing rooms of fitness studios, you will see middle aged women walking around naked with a bush while young girls will cover up and try to get dressed with their towel still covering them.

  7. Everyone drives the newest car
    Bildergebnis für deutsche autos
    Source: autobild.de

    It is quite true that germans love their cars, man and woman alike. They probably love their cars more than beer and sausage. But not everyone drives a Benz here. And not everyone has the newest model. Especially beginners will start with an older car to lower the costs in case of a small accident. And there are also people who don’t have enough money or don’t wanna spend their money on the newest car every half a decade. As much as germans love their cars, they love their environment a little bit more and will keep their car for years, giving it to their kids when they’re older, instead of buying a new one.

And this was everything that I could debunk about german myths. I am sure there are at least as much more as the ones I mentioned. If you have any in your mind, don’t be shy to ask me in the comments.

I hope you liked this post!

Thanks for reading!

Merveille.

Did we land in Ancient China? | Suzhou

After days of trying to figure out a quicker upload, I have now finally managed to upload my 4th video on Youtube.

I do have to say that it’s more time consuming than blogging, but it’s also so much fun! I never thought I would enjoy doing this and can’t wait to find out more editing tools!

 

 

Head over to my channel if you wanna see the rest of the videos!

 

Thank you for reading and watching!

5 Myths about China that are not true

1. Everyone eats dog meat

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A dog enjoying the calmness of that dirty river :’D

It’s true that there is a dog meat festival in a village in Guilin. These people are definitely the cruelest, dumbest, most ignorant and evil people in this world. Seriously, how can you possibly tortue and then eat a dog??!?!!?!??
Yes, this festival is a reality in China, but it’s the exception. I have never seen anyone eat dog meat where I lived in China. I also don’t know anyone of my friends who tried it or seen dog meat being offered anywhere.
Of course I am not trying to deny that this behavious exists in China, but it is also not true that everyone in China eats dog. It’s rather more common to see dogs being kept as pets now, and they seem to be more popular than cats. There are also more people protesting against the dog meat festival every year. So I hope that after a few years, the government will actually do something to ban it for good.

2. You will return with lung cancer

20160214_121031_Richtone(HDR)
That day the smog in Shanghai was stronger than on other days.

Another misconception that many people get after watching the news too much. Again, I am not trying to deny the fact that the air is polluted, but it is by far not as bad as you see in media. Of course, when you happen to live in Beijing, it is more serious, but if you happen to live in any other city, you won’t see the smog as often as you feared. I was living in small town close to Shanghai, and the only times it was really smoggy were the 2 or 3 days after Christmas.
December is a very bad time to visit China, because the pollution is gonna be the strongest. Since winter is really hard in the north, heating will go up during the cold months. The eastern and southern parts of China don’t have central heating since there is basically only one month of proper cold weather. Still, the smog from Beijing wanders east to Shanghai and the cities around it. I did wake up to a smoggy morning and I just cried in my bed. I didn’t know what to do other than wear a face mask.
Still, this only lasted a few days. The other days were maybe only a little bit more polluted than the weather here in Germany. No city nowadays is 100% clean. I guess you’d have to live up on a mountain or by the beach to have clear and clean air.

3. Street food is not safe

IMG_20160324_230513
Some fatty but yummy street food in Xi’An

Totally wrong! Street food is in most cases even safer and cleaner than restaurant food. You can actually see all the ingredients and how they cook it, so they can’t trick you. Also, most locals get streetfood on an almost daily basis, so don’t worry. It seriously is restaurant food that you should be worried about. Behind closed doors, those cooks use MSG and used oil and what else we can only guess about.
Street food is the safest option in Asia in my opinion.

4. Everyone is rude

IMG_20160604_152028
Some frown, some laugh.

I hear a lot of tourists and travellers complain about how rude chinese people are. I can see how that happens though. I also had my share of chinese rudeness, but it was mostly some mean taxi drivers refusing to take us because we were not chinese, or couldn’t speak the language, or didn’t have the adress in chinese characters. Other than those evil taxi drivers, I mostly met the nicest people on earth. When I was lost, there were people who would get out of their ways to help me. Once, a girl even took us all the way to our hostel although it was raining outside. Not only young people, but also older people are so nice when they see you are lost. They are actually the ones who will understand your broken mandarin the best :’D
Also, when you plan to go to China, you should get ready to learn at least some basic sentences in mandarin. People will appreciate it and they will be more eager to help you out. Actually, this is something you should do for every country you visit. In the end, you are the visitor.

5. It’s a communist country

IMG_20160313_234626
Mao is watching you

Of course, the party that rules the country of China is a communist party. Still, chinese people must be the most capitalist nation I have seen. They are addicted to shopping and real estates as well as tourism. China is a rising star, and without a capitalist concept, it would have never become the most powerful developping country.
I would describe China as a perfect mixture between communism and capitalism. I am sure, that the political situation in China will eventually get better and better after the following years to come. I kind of feel like China might be the next super nation since the US is doomed with Donald Trump :’D
Anyway, what I wanna say is that the political situation in China is actually not as bad as others imagine it to be.

So these were the most crucial myths people know about China before actually visiting. If you visit a country with specific misconpetions already floating around in your head beforehand, then it is quite certain that these things will actually happen.

So please, wherever you go, let go of your prejudice and enjoy the place in its purity!

Merveille.

8 Signs that I’m turning chinese

During my time in China, I always heard my friends telling me that I was “so chinese“, because of the things I said or did. It’s funny though, because some of those things I have already been doing before I even came to China. They were the outcomes of how my parents educated me, my background of the turkish culture, and my physical circumstances.

But there are also some thoughts and actions that I adapted into my life after my time in China.

Here are 8 signs that I’m turning chinese:

  1. Whipping eggs with chopsticks

    Ähnliches Foto
    Source: twitter.com

     

    I definitely adapted to this behaviour after having lived in China. Before, I only saw my vietnamese friend doing this, but I never gave it a thought. When living in China, I always had eggs for breakfast, basically every day. We also didn’t have a whip, so I used the chopsticks just as my friends were doing it. And I have to say, it is way more effective.

  2. Not drinking ice cold drinks

    Bildergebnis für ice cold drinks
    Source: dish.allrecipes.com

    I already tried to avoid ice cold drinks even before I came to China, because I am a person who can get easily sick from ice cold drinks. Every time I complained about ice cold drinks in China, my western friends would look at me with big eyes and say: “Merve, you are so chinese.” :’D When I was in China, I realized how much they are afraid of cold things such as drinks and ice cream. Drinking hot water in summer is a very common thing there, and I actually like it and think that chinese people really know how to take care of their health. 

  3. Missing Squat Toilets

    Bildergebnis für squat toilets
    Source: dailymail.co.uk

    Now, you might think I am crazy to be misssing squat toilets, the nightmare of many laowais travelling and living in China and other Asian countries. But let me say one thing guys: Some of them might look and smell disgusting, but they are soooo much better for your health. It is so unhealthy to press your “number 2” out of your body by sitting upright, than for it just to come out naturally through squatting. It sounds funny to talk about these kind of things, but it’s important to be aware of your poo and the way it is pressed out :’D
    Please tell me in the comments about what you think about this. I’d be interested. #pootalk

  4. Being afraid of loosing face

    Bildergebnis für losing face
    Source: china-mike.com

    First of all, you have to know what it means in chinese culture. It is not just being embarrassed, but also trying to avoid the embarrasment of other people (colleagues, friends, family). So it is not only important to save your own face, but also the face of the other person. So if you have done a mistake at work, your boss would never dare telling you the mistakes in your face. That would be an embarrassment for you, as well as an uncomfortable situation for himself. Because of this losing face philosophy, there is a lot of misunderstanding in the working environment. Still, I like this concept, and I have always behaved like this actually. I always felt uncomfortable criticizing other people. I came to understand that I might be unable to fully criticize someone in a negative way. Also at work, when I see a colleague having a hard time with another colleague, I would always have the urge to help them or make them feel comfortable again. I am also someone who could never say directly what I don’t like about the other person (except when I am hungry :’D), not because I am afraid of that person fighting with me back or insulting me, no, but simply just because I would be ashamed of myself to embarass another person just like that, in this case, to make them loose face.
    This also is something that I haven’t just learned in China. This has a lot to do with my upbringing. It actually might not be a typical way of turkish upbringing, since many turkish people can be very direct and aggressive, but just the combined characterstics of my parents contributed to this behaviour of mine. Maybe my parents are secretly chinese (with my mom’s looks, it would even be possible :’D)
    Tell me what you think about this theory of losing face, and how you behave in cases like these.

  5. Taking photos of everything

    Bildergebnis für asians taking photos
    Source: complex.com

    This has also been one of my most favourite past times even before living in China. I actually felt like fitting in when I saw all the other chinese people around me taking pictures of their food and stuff :’D I truly felt like I belonged.

  6. Speaking loudly

    Again, I have always been a very loud person when it came to speaking and laughing, and just making noises in general. So when I started living in China, I didn’t stand out anymore :’D Everyone else was just as loud as me. 

  7. Thank you, please

    I might appear as rude when I don’t always say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ to everyone. My friends noticed that all the time at the dining table for example and pointed it out. I told them that I didn’t realize I kept on forgetting it. When I explained that in turkish culture, you don’t really use these phrases when talking to your close family and friends, our chinese friend agreed and told us that it’s similar in chinese cuture as well. They sound too formal to use with your friends and family. Still, I am always reminding myself at least to say thank you more often to my colleagues.

  8. Slurping hot drinks

    Bildergebnis für slurping hot tea
    Source: teabeyond.blogspot.com

    Chinese people make a lot of noises when eating and drinking. I know a lot of people who get annoyed by that. I am luckily not bothered so much, since I have to commit to doing one of these noises as well, which is slurping hot drinks or soup. For me, this had nothing to do with a cultural background. It’s just that my mouth is very sensitive to any temperature, so when I am drinking something hot, I have to slurp it to prevent my tongue from getting burned. I guess chinese people do it for the same reason. Or maybe for the reason that japanese people slurp their ramen: because they say it tastes better :D

That’s it! I’m on the right way to become chinese. I think if I should return to live in China again one day, I will probably even adapt more manners.

What about you guys, is there anything mentioned above that can be applied to your behaviour as well? Let me know below!

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Merveille

Dubai Part 5: The White Bliss of a Mosque

Our last day has arrived, on Friday March 17th. We checked out and since this was our last full day, and we had to be at the airport early next morning (like 2am). So we basically had to kill time the whole day and evening until our flight early next morning. Here is what we did.

1. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi

From our hotel, we walked to the metro and bus station which in walking distance to our hotel. There, we bought a metro/bus card and waited in line for the bus to arrive. The bus was a bit late already, and when it finally arrived, there was such a hustle with gettin on it. Some people were accusing an old man of cutting the line, so he had to go to the back of the line to wait for the next bus. It was a bit sad to watch since that man was quite old.

After we were on the bus, the ride took us about an hour. I was getting hungrier by the hour, and when we finally arrived at Abu Dhabi Bus Terminal, we saw that there was a mall in front of it and I immediately had to use the toilet and have a late lunch.

After waiting for the waiters to finally bring the bill, and then bring the change, we finally left the mall and looked for a taxi to take us to Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Here, I would probably recommend you not to take the taxis right in front of the bus terminal. Walk a bit further and get a different one because the ones at the bus terminal will probably start with a higher sum and there will also be those private car taxis where they will try to drive you around in luxury cars :’D Of course, if you are interested, you can do it, but if you get annoyed by this kind of stuff, you should head to a calmer place to pick up a taxi.

When we were finally approaching the mosque, we could already see the snow-white minarettes from afar and were already taking pictures like crazy.

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Before we could enter the mosque, we were given abayas to wear over our clothes. You can avoid wearing it if you come prepared with clothes covering your shoulders, arms, legs, belly and head. I came unprepared on purpose, because I really wanted to wear this abaya. I think it just adds to the atmosphere, and it is nice to be on the same level with the local tourists. I think you should try it, too. You can either purchase your own abaya (as many chinese tourists did, probably on taobao) or you can come with your every day clothes and get an abaya there for free. Of course you have to give it back after you exit the mosque.

I kind of liked the abayas that we got which were blue and made us look like wizards (I’m looking at you Ravenclaw) and were made of a very light fabric.

As soon as we went inside, we started taking pictures of course.

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We were allowed to enter the prayer rooms as well. For this, you have to take off your shoes of course, so we did it. It was so nice to walk around on bare feet.

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After this, we took a few more pictures of the outside of the mosque, and then slowly headed outside.

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As unlucky as we were, the call to prayer just started as we left the mosque :( It sounded so beautiful and calming, but luckily, we could still see the mosque from the outside and hear the prayer. It was still beautiful, but if you really wanna hear the call to prayer while inside the mosque, get yourself informed about the prayer times.

When we left the mosque, it was probably around 6pm. We took the taxi back to the bus terminal and took a bus back to Dubai. This would drop us off in the city centre, because we wanted to do something before heading back to the hotel to pick up our luggage.

After the tiresome day and the thought of the flight ahead of us, we got carried away and actually missed our stop. It actually wasn’t our fault, because there was no anouncement whatsoever on the bus and it was already dark and we couldn’t see anything. We were now driving through parts of Dubai we have never seen before, so we asked the other passengers where this bus was going, and they told us that the next and final stop was Al Ghubaiba and that we missed our stop. We were now starting to panic a little bit, but another guy on the bus told us that we could easily take the metro from there to the city centre. He even helped us get to the metro station which was so nice of him. The people in Dubai truly are very helpful and nice, no matter which part you go to.

2. Take the Dubai Metro

Yes, because it is a bit different than metros in other countries. Smoking and chewing gum is prohibited in most areas with high fines waving at you if you break them. And the biggest shock was of course the division of the train cars into male and female. There is literally a line on the floor that doesn’t allow males to step over. So, our brother had to stand at one end of the line and my sister and me at the other. I know that some people have difficulties accepting this, but I can actually understand the reason for such measurements. It is probably preventing women from getting harrassed. I know that this exists in Japan as well where the trains and metros get filled up with so many people and women often reported about sexual harrassments that could not be screened because of the amount of people. Now, some trains in Japan have female only carriages where women can choose to enter. It is not a must, so if you are travelling with male friends you can still choose to enter the normal mixed carriage as well. In Dubai, it is not a choice though. This was also the only time using the metro for us. If I were to be travelling alone in Dubai, I would have used the metro constantly because it is cheap, it gets everywhere, it’s clean, safe and apparently safe as well. So, I can encourage you to use it when you are travelling solo.

3. Have dinner in front of the Burj Khalifa

Since it was our last evening, we wanted to have a last glimpse at the Burj Khalifa. What better way than having dinner in front of it we thought. We were a bit late since the bus ride took us half an hour longer (2 hours in total because our bus driver on the way back was quite slow) and then we had to take the metro back again. Then, we had to walk like another 15-20 minutes until we got out of the metro and in front of the Burj Khalifa. So by the time we had dinner it was almost 10pm. We decided to have pizza at an italian-american fusion restaurant by the fountain. It was super delicious, the drink and food looked and tasted amazing of course.

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Cucumber green ice tea, water melon – strawberry juice, strawberry ice tea

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We were even lucky enough this time, to catch the last screening of the fountain show. This time, they used a beautiful arabic song. Last time when we were watching, they used a cheesy Whitney Houston song.

Before heading to the taxi pick up at midnight, my brother stopped at a coffeeshop and got himself a late night coffee to be ready for the upcoming red-eye flight.

When we arrived back at the hotel, we picked up our luggage, got changed and called a taxi to the airport. It was sad to say goodbye to the hotel and especially, to Dubai.

At the airport, we waited for about an hour until our check-in counter was open. We charged our phones and used the wifi for a bit. The time flew by very quickly, and we were soon in the middle of checking-in, security and then boarding.

Our layover in Istanbul was shorter this time. At first we were worried that we wouldn’t make it, because we still had to get our connecting flight tickets from the THY counter, and then we saw the security check-up lines and panicked a litte bit. But everything was done quickly and we even had time to use the toilet and have a smoking break (my brother is a smoker).

We then comfortably walked to our gate and boarded. By the time we landed back in Stuttgart, our feet were swelled up like mini-water boats :’D It was horrible! I don’t usually get swollen feet from sitting for too long on airplanes, but this time was extreme. I guess it was due to the time that we also spent at Abu Dhabi, and then spending the whole evening on our feet, waiting for flight, and flying for several hours.

This was our trip to Dubai. I hope you enjoyed the ride. I know, it is a little bit more text this time, but I hope you can use some of the information for your travel plans, whether it be Dubai or any other place. I am sure that some structures and experiences I had can be applied to different places.

What about your next travel plans? Tell me where you are heading to next.

Do you get swollen feet from flying for too long as well? What do you do to prevent it other than flying business or first class?

Do you also have some weird metro experiences? Share them with me below.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille

What to do: Chinese Wedding

As I have written in my previous post which was before I flew off to China, that I would visit Taipei after attending one of my best friend’s wedding.

Saturday, January 7th: 

So, let me start with my arrival in Shanghai. I arrived on a Saturday, the 7th of January in the late afternoon / early evening hours. It took me quite some time to get to the city centre by metro, but luckily I quickly found my hotel.

Later, my friend Ana came to stay with me and we went out to go clubbing on my first night in Shanghai which was hilarious :D

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We met some korean girls who were a lot of fun :D

We arrived back in the hotel room quite late and had to wake up pretty early the next morning for our train to Yuyao. And I was already jetlagged, so I fell into the bed and immediately fell asleep.

Sunday, January 8th: 

We arrived in Yuyao at around 1pm, and after putting our stuff back in Ana’s apartment, we met our friends to drink some tea with them and put our bags in their car. Then, I had to get my nails done for the wedding, and Ana came with me. After that, our friends picked us up and we all drove off to our bride Veronica’s home to have the rehearsal dinner.

We had amazing food which I didn’t have time to take photos of. And I was really jetlagged and hungover, so I couldn’t be bothered.

After dinner, we went to my friend Veronica’s home to drink some tea and help with preparations.

The family has prepared a table with sacrifices for Buddha. It was filled with food like sticky rice, fruits and some sweet snacks, as well as incense.

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Early the next morning, a living fish would be hung up under the table, before being released into the river. The fish has to come back to life, or else the marriage will be unlucky.

Later, after finishing our tea, we got checked in at a hotel close to their home so we could wake up early the next morning for the picking up of the bride.

Monday, January 9th: 

The day of the wedding started early for us. We packed our things, got dressed up and went down for breakfast. One of Veronica’s cousins picked us up and took us to Veronica’s home. She was in the middle of getting her hair done when we arrived. All of her cousins and some of her closest friends were already there. We were easily around 10 girls in that room, waiting for the excitement to begin.

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No, I’m not wearing white, it’s mint
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Our friend Josie had a Polaroid camera

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In chinese tradition, the bride gets locked up in her room by her female cousins and friends. The groom has to answer a certain amount of questions about the bride and their relationship, in order to be let in. If there are questions he struggles to solve, he can slide red pockets filled with money under the door for us so we can give him a hint.
Since the questions were all in chinese, and the groom’s chinese is not very good, the cousins and chinese friends of the bride did the question-asking. But we also got some red pockets each. I was happy to get my first red pocket ever :D

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The girls blocking the door
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Our first hongbaos (red pockets)

When the groom manages to answer all the questions, he enters the room and proposes to her with a ring and a bouquet of flowers. When she says yes, he has to find her shoes that have been hidden by her friends and cousins in her room. And here again, red pockets can be used for hints. When he finally founds the shoes, he has to put them on her and then they both leave the room, and the father of the groom has to carry the bride out of the house.

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He found the shoes!

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Waiting for the father – in- law
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The wedding car was a Bentley
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Me creeping on the groom and bride :’D

From the bridal car, the couple will go to the groom’s home and after 1 or 2 hours, everyone will meet up at the reception to have lunch together.

The food at the lunch was amazing! Mostly seafood, but the most delicious dishes you can think of. For dessert, we got some delicious sesame balls. I fell in love with those sweets, that I had to know where to get them.
After most dishes were finished, the bride and groom had to walk from table to table to make toasts and drink baijiou (my friend only drank coconut water).

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These were only the cold dishes
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The fruit baskets
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The bride and groom arrive
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That dress *o*
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That hair piece *o*
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This dessert was my favourite part about the wedding. It’s glutinous sesame balls and the taste is heavenly <3
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Group picture!

 

The wedding was over too soon. We went back to my friend’s home, got dressed and took a nap for a few hours. In the evening, we would have one last dinner, and that too only consisted of delicious food, including the eggplant dish that I love so much.

After the dinner, our friend Libby picked us up and took us home. We went to our friends for games and drinks after that. It was a very nice closure to an eventful day and a great ending of my third day in China.

All in all I can say that a traditional chinese wedding is mainly about food, which I actually like. As a turkish girl used to dancing and loud music that is kind of a different approach to a wedding. I actually did miss all the music and dancing. The part with locking up the bride was almost the same with turkish tradition though. We have the same procedure, with the only difference that only 1 or 2 people are locking the door (usually the siblings or a cousin) and they get a huge amount of money from the groom and his family (in the hundred euro spectrum). There are also no questions, just bargaining.

I know that at some modern chinese weddings, there are bingo games and competitions being held, so that might be a little more lively. But I am happy that I have been to a true traditional chinese wedding.

I hope you enjoyed my post about this extraordinary day.

Have you guys ever been to a chinese wedding? Or to any other wedding of a different culture from yours? I would be happy to read about them in the comments below.

See you on my next adventure!

 

Barcelona: How to combine Clubbing and Sight-seeing

Thursday, 19th March 2015: Arc de Triomf, Barrio Gotico, Mercat de la Boqueria:

On my previous post I wrote about the arrival in Barcelona and our second day there which also included clubbing. Clubbing during your travels can have its advantages and, if time is short, disadvantages. However, I have heard so many things about the nightlife in Barcelona, that I wanted to experience that as well. The problematic part happens in the next day’s morning hours of course. Usually, I am a person that doesn’t need a lot of rest after dancing. On that day, however, I just didn’t want to leave my bed. When my sister woke me up at 9am for breakfast, I felt so sick that I thought to skip breakfast. In the end, I thought it would be better to eat at least something, so we went down and I ate some fruits. After breakfast, we went to bed again, but not even after an hour I woke up again to take shower. I thought that might help to come back to myself and make me stop shivering all the time, despite of the sunny weather outside. My sister’s mood was a bit down since she knew this would happen after the party. But as soon as we got ourselves ready to go, we were feeling a bit better already. We met my friend Keddy at the station Arc de Triomf and began taking photos as soon as we saw the monument :D

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My trying to take selfies. Somehow I think that my front camera is broken, since the pictures is alwas dark at the top/at the right end
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My friend Keddy in front of the Arc de Triomf
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My sister and my friend Keddy walking through the Arc in front of me.
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A panorama shot of the Arc de Triomf

It was a beautiful, sunny day. As we walked into the Arc there was a man creating soap bubbles. We watched him and tried to capture beautiful photos with the bubbles flying in front of the arc. The man started speaking with us as he heard we were german. He also came from germany he told us :D

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Look at the beautiful bubbles he created.

After standing there for a while we continued and found ourselves in the Parc de la Ciutadella. We walked around a little bit and found some beautiful places *o*

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This view is so beautiful <3
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Me doing a little posing with the palm trees
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The famous fountain in the Parc de la Ciutadella. In my opinion, it is more beautiful than the Parc Güell
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A memorial for the victims of the war.

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This was at the end of the Parc. That building is the parliament I think, and it was a bit funny to see a statue of a crying person in front of it. I think the statue and the little pond around it should symbolize a legend I have heard about. In that, there is a person who cried so much that a lake was formed. But I forgot what that story was and what it was called.

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Whilte we were there, two friends of Keddy joined us as well. Flor, one of the Argentinian girls from the night before, and Monique, a girl who is also from Germany. Unfortunately, Flor didn’t stay too long with us. When we decided to visit Barrio Gotico, she had to return home to study. On the way there we walked past the old city walls of Barcelona as well.

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Barrio Gotico is really a cute district with its many cafes, restaurants, little shops and tiny, old passages.

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Giant Palm Tree :D It’s steadied by metal ropes :’D

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We walked around there, searching for a place to eat something and drink coffee. Then, my sister saw a shop selling macarons, but ended up buying ice cream which said to be the best in Barcelona.I tried from my sister, and it really tasted good. But I wanted to eat something proper, since my breakfast was a bit poor and I was getting very hungry. After walking for too long, we found a sandwhich shop and Keddy and me bought something to eat there. We took the sandwiches with us and sat down in front of the cathedral there. It was a good atmosphere and the sandwich tasted like the best thing ever :D In front of the cathedral, there was a man playing the guitar, and it fit perfectly to the sunny weather. It really was a beautiful moment, sitting there on the steps with the others and enjoying the sun and the music.

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After Keddy and me finished out sandwiches, we slowly set off to the city, in the direction of Las Ramblas where we wanted to go to the Mercat de la Boqueria. I was already so excited to sea this, and I was definitely not disappointed:

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Every second stand was a smoothie stand. However, I didn’t like the smoothies that much :/ I was expecting more from them. Once, I had a raspberry-banana smoothie which didn’t taste too spectacular, and one day after, I had a dragonfruit-coconut smoothie which tasted like puke :S I think it was because of the coconut. I cannot recommend the ones with coconut to you, guys. You should better stick to what you know and like.
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This was sooo yummy! I want fish right now <3

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Thats what I bought from the Mercat (except for the bookmark of course)

We wanted to go there the next day again to buy something for our flight <3

After we left the Mercat, Monique had to leave. We said goodbye and then we set off to the bay. There was a mall, so we wanted to check that out. We didn’t take too long there. Keddy just went to the toilet, and me and my sister rested a bit. But we didn’t go shopping :D

However, the view was beautiful:

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After leaving the mall, we looked for a place to eat Churros, since we still didn’t have eaten any. When we went to Plaza del Reial, we saw a little cute cafe that sold Churros with hot chocolate sauce <3 We immediately went inside and ordered:

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The interior is so cute guys! If I lived in Barcelona, I would be her every day. I forgot what it was cold, but it is in the little passage way that’s leading to the Plaza del Reial on the right hand side. You won’t miss that cute shop.

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Seriously, I wanna eat Churros for breakfast every day now *o* that was sooo gooood!

Well, after enjoying our ‘meal’, we set off to Las Ramblas again. We planned to go to Plaza Espana. My friend told me that there was a mall called Arena where one could go up the roof and have a view over the Plaza. So we did that. On our way to the metro station, however, my sister found the Sephora Shop and went inside. Guys, it was overwhelming. Never seen such a huge shop only for cosmetics. We don’t have Sephora in Germany, and the one we saw in Prague was tiny. This one looked like a runway when you entered o.O Too much walking for me and Keddy. We decided to sit down on the sofas downstairs. It was a bit embarrassing, since there were only men sitting there, waiting for their wifes/girlfriends :’D

Well, fortunately, my sister didn’t take too long, so we set left. When we arrived at Plaza de Espana, it was about 9pm I think. We were so tired from the night before, that we had difficulties walking :’D But it was worth the walk:

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At the back you can see the Font Magica. When we left the Plaza we went there, too, since we saw the water from above, but when we arrived there, it was already turned down :( Next time, I want to see the fountain show!

When we entered the metro a few minutes later, we were quite relieved to go back home/to the hotel again. It was an exhausting, yet beautiful day. Plus, we proved that you can easily combine partying and sightseeing on a short city trip ;)

The next day was our last, but we still had a lot of time, so we did something as well before heading to the airport. If you want to know what we have done, stay tuned for the last Barcelona Post.

I’m in love with Barcelona <3

First of all: I am so sorry that I couldn’t post this earlier guys, but I was quite busy the last few weeks. I have been reading my books for my bachelor thesis like crazy, and now, I only have 2 left. Still, I wanted to post about my trip to Barcelona ASAP as well, so that I won’t forget what I experienced. If some of you were following me on instagram, you might have seen some of the photos already. Still, I want to give a full report about what I had done during those 3 days in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Here we go!

1. Day, Tuesday, 17th March 2015: Arrival in Barcelona

That day, we prepared ourselves for a one and a half hour flight from Stuttgart to Barcelona. image Our trip was enjoyable and we arrived in Barcelona at about 7pm. My friend Keddy who is doing her Erasmus there picked us up at the airport. We immediately went to our hotel to put back our luggage. Our hotel was called Madanis and was near Camp Nou. It was a beautiful place and the rooms were quite comfortable. When we finally refreshed a bit, we set off again to eat something. My friend took us to a restaurant called Montaditos. It is a restaurant that sells sandwiches in small Tapas size. It tasted quite good and was what we needed at that moment. image The wine we drank was also very tasty. It looks a lot I know but we were 3 people and the sandwiches were quite small. But in the end we were full and went back to our hotel. My friend also gave us a metro Plan so we could find our hotel, and the meeting point for the next day. I have to say that the metro plan is easier than I imagined. So if you ever go to Barcelona getting around will be your least problem. I would also advise you to buy a 10-rides-ticket. 1 ride is valid for 90 minutes.

2. Day, Wednesday, 18th March 2015: Sightseeing Parcs:

That day was a loooong day. We had a good breakfast at the hotel. image image

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View from our hotel room.

After breakfast we got on the metro to go to Parc Güell. It was a bit outside of the city centre, at the metro station Vallcarca, but we met Keddy and found it. The weather could have been a bit better but still it was nice and thankfully it didn’t rain.

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Half the way we walked to Parc Güell.

image When we arrived in Parc Güell we walked around the charge-free area a bit and climbed up there to have a view over Barcelona. And it was worth it. There was also a guy playing the guitar, so the atmosphere was very peaceful and calming. image Then we continued walking amd came to the main part of the parc. There we found out that we had to pay so we did. It was about 8€ but I think it was okay. We had to wait 30 minutes to get inside, so that not everyon’d go inside at once. In the meantime we took a lot of photos

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A little bit of posing ;)
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While taking photos here, a group of school pupils came to us to ask us some questions about where we came from, how old we were, and why we were visiting Barcelona and Parc Güell. I think it was a homework from english class at school to interview tourists :D
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Gaudi’s House. What a beautiful building! I wish I could live here in summer <3

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The mosaic embellishments on the stone benches.
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My friend Keddy and my sister. Unfortunately one building was restored, so the view was a bit uncomplete.
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This bench was built so that it could provide you with shadow in summer and sun in winter.

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It was really hard to take some decent photos of the famous mosaic lizard in Parc Güell, since so many people wanted to take a photo of and with it. The man standing there was posing next to the lizard with his wife for several minutes. He was even told off by a parc guard because he began leaning on the lizard -.- That man annoyed a great deal, and I think he was the perfect role model of an annoying tourist.

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I loved this house, it looks like gingerbread house. And the bird in front looks like its sould is leaving him :/
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A last picture of the Parc Güell

After walking for about 2 hours, we got tired and hungry, so we went to Barrio Gracia to find a place to eat. We walked there since it wasn’t too far away. Barrio Gracia is a artsy district with a lot of small boutiques, bars, restaurant and strangely enough, a lot of vegan shops. image After walking around a bit we found a Tapas Restaurant.

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These were our tapas. I know, it doesn’t look like a lot of food, but it stuffed us quite well. They were all sooooo delicious, I wanna eat all of those again.
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Guys, especially these mushrooms with cheese were heaven!
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So, if you want to eat at a good and not so expensive place, this restaurant at Barrio Gracia is amazing. It doesn’t only serve Tapas, but also main dishes.

After eating we got on our way to the metro station. My friend Keddy saw a coffee shop and bought a cup of coffee. Then, a few streets further, we saw a froyo shop and got ourselves a frozen yoghurt :D image Now we took the metro to go to the Parc de Laberint. I saw this online on trip advisor and fell in love with it: It has a maze guys!!! Whatever you do, you have to go to that parc! It is not far from the station Mundet (As I can remember that’s what the station was called). As we arrived we didn’t even have to walk that much. Soon we found it. It is near the campus. And we were lucky: the entrance is free on wednesdays (and sundays as well I think). But usually it’s 2€ so that’s quite cheap.

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The entrance to the labyrinth parc
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Inside, we found this cute door which looked so magical. On the other side, we found…
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… The Romantic Parc

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Further ahead from the Romantic parc, we found little water falls. I couldn’t stop taking photos of these <3

image After that, as we walked around the area, we saw some roofs and I was wondering what building that was. So we had a look and found this place below. It was the entrance to the maze. image

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Me trying to be artsy :D

And finally: THE MAZE!

image image Aaahhhh! It was sooo amazing and fun! The gloomy weather fit perfectly to the atmoshpere of the maze. I think it couldn’t have been better <3 image As we wanted to leave we came across these little cuties :’D I noticed that there are a lot of animals, especially bird-type animals. In Parc Güell we saw some beautiful green birds that looked like tropical birds. Here we saw a heron and some ducks :D Well, after the parc we decided to shortly get out at station Catalunya. There is the parallel street to the Ramblas and so the Casa Batllo. We saw it and it really is quite beautiful. Gaudi was a genius, really. image My friend wanted to show me something. After walking for a while, it turned out to be a bookstore :D what else! It was a book store called Altair and was one especially for travelling. image On this board people could pin their announcements to look for travel partners who want to go to the same place. A cool idea in my opinion. I bought a bookmark here. It was a bit expensive but it was a beautiful one.

After that, we went to our hotel room. In the evening we wanted to go partying. My friend asked us if we want to go to the Sonora Bar first where the Erasmus students usually meet. After that we would go to a club called Razzmatazz. Wednesdays, clubs usually are closed. Only a few are open and Razzmatazz is one of those.

At the hotel, we lay down a bit cause we were so tired. It was also the day when FC Barcelona had a match (against Liverpool I think), so I could watch all the football fans down in the streets in front of our hotel room window. Later when the game started, we could hear everything from the stadium. Well, almost everything. Every time the goal keeper made a long, hard kick to the other end we could hear that, and every time the crowd groaned and cheered we could hear it as well :D no need to pay for a seat ;D

Well, a few hours later we were ready and went to meet our friend at the metro station Marina. At the bar we ate a hamburger but I didn’t like it a lot and couldn’t even finish it. But I drank a lot. Maybe too much. Whenever you go partying in Barcelona, or Spain in general, keep in mind that the drinks are quite strong. At the bar we met some Argentinien friends of Keddy. They were quite funny and nice people :D

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When we went inside the club, I was already a bit tipsy, but the crowd at the entrance gave me a little shock. The People were going crazy as though there was something for free. The entrance was usually 15€+free drink. If you had a screenshot of the event flyer, you could get inside for 8€+drink of course. Well, the entrance fee was the only thing I spent that night. I had my free drink, Rum-Cola and then my sister couldn’t drink half of her Vodka Bull so she gave it to me.

At the end of the night, I was drunk and feeling sick. But still we had fun and met a lot of nice people. Although I didn’t really like the music at the club (it was a mixture between pop charts and 90s trashy music), I had a good time, no wonder with so much alcohol consumed. However, the club Razzmatazz actually is known for its techno music, and its 7 or so floors, but on Wednesday, only 1 floor is open and the music is rather bad.

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Well, at some point in the club, my friend and my sister were gone and I found myself dancing alone and having a lot of fun :’D My sister also told me that she saw a lot of gay couples making out in a corner :’D I think I was just too wasted to notice that.

Well, in the end, when we were feeling tired, we decided to leave at about 5 am. We went outside and there was a huge crowd of young people, mostly Erasmus students. At after 5 am we took the metro to the hotel. At 6 am we arrived and instantly fell asleep.

How we survived the next day, you will find out in the second part of the post :)