When I finally saw the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’An

It’s been quite a while now, I know. But here it is, my last video from Xi’An 2016. It started with the Warriors and ended with some delicious food.

 

 

Thank you for reading and watching!

Merveille

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Weekly Wonders: Berlin Callling

I will already prepare you for this post, since it only contains a little preview of my short trip to Berlin. Nothing else really happened that week. I was basically just working, except for this little weekend getaway to Germany’s amazing capitol city. Let’s start with the pictures!

1. At the beginning of the week, we all got together with my cousins and had dinner at Archie’s, which is an American style chain restaurant. They have amazing burgers. I ate the Kobe Beef Burger which was delicious <3

2. On Saturday morning, around 6am, I arrived at the airport and was shocked! It was filled with sooo many people! Thousands of thousands of vacationers, getting ready to fly away to some sunny parts of the world! I have never seen our home airport so busy. I felt lucky that I already checked-in online and didn’t have to queue for that. The lines for the security checks were so long, they nearly reached back to the entrance doors. Nevertheless, I made it on time for my flight.

3. After I finally arrived in Berlin, I took a nap at my friend Yen’s apartment and then we met to get our nails done. It’s really cheap there, only 26€!!! Here, you pay 35€ just for a refill -.-

4.+5. We then walked around the city of Potsdam a little bit. Here, you can see the Brandenburger Tor of Potsdam, and the city hall.

6. In the evening, it was finally time to meet for Yen’s Birthday Dinner at the korean BBQ restaurant Kimchi Princess. The lighting was really bad though, so I don’t have good pictures from there :’D

7. After dinner, we went to the club The Pearl where my friend booked a table for us. It was an amazing party and many of us had some drinks too much :’D

8. The next morning, we woke up pretty hungover and tired, but we decided not to waste the day and go explore the Thai Park. It was all very yummy, but unfortunately, I lost the pictures :'( To make up for that, here is a photo of my favourite dessert: Hong Kong Waffles. This was sold at a restaurant at Rosenthaler Straße called Chicken Buzz. It was a chinese restaurant, and they also served these waffles and refreshing lemonades <3

9. Towards the end of the day, we were feeling a bit more energetic, especially after that raspberry lemonade. We decided to head to Alexanderplatz and take some photos in front of the TV Tower. They actually turned out pretty fine!

 

I will write some seperate posts about Berlin as well. It will contain a lot of food, so be prepared for that. I was actually thinking about starting a restaurant guide on this blog where I review different locations and the food they serve. Tell me if you’d be interested below. In general, I am lagging behind with blogging. I am always extremely tired from work, so it’s really hard for me to blog regularly. It was easier in the past when I was still a student. I realize how much time I used to have back then.

What about you guys? When do you find time for blogging?
Have you ever been to Berlin? If so, tell me your favourite spots there.

Thanks for reading! See you next week!

Merveille

 

Weekly Wonders: Birthday Week

 

1. Monday started with a brunch out in town. We ordered the breakfast for two which included a basket full of bread, a plate with scrambled eggs, two different types of jam, butter, 3 different kinds of cheese and ham, different kinds of fruit, two cups of fruit oatmeal, and two glasses of orange juice. I also ordered an extra ginger tea since I was a bit sick. The breakfast was extremely yummy and filling. We couldn’t eat anything for the rest of the day.

2. The rest of the day was dedicated to shopping. I found a pair of sunglasses which were reduced from 120€ to 99€ and I spontaneously bought them as you can see on the picture. I did need a new pair though.
3. We were walking around a beautiful park, looking for a nice spot to take photos at and they had these colourful flowers planted.  We didn’t take too long, and went back home. We were completely shattered.

4. On Tuesday, July 4th, it was my birthday. We had planned to go to the thermal baths that day. My sister still had free tickets, so we used them. It was a day full of relaxation, swimming, sunshine and yummy food and drinks. Despite being sick, I enjoyed it a lot. Still miss the steam bath and the amazing fruit sugar peeling we got there for free.

5. At the weekend, I finally got to celebrate my birthday with all my friends. My sister did my make-up and I got to wear my new dress from Mango.

6. It was such an amazing evening, despite some reservation problems. I booked a table for 11 at the most popular sushi restaurant in town called Origami at 9pm (8pm was not possible), and when we arrived at 8.50pm, they told us that we’d have to wait for a while until the guests have finished eating. It was around 9.30pm until we were able to go inside for food finally. Until we had ordered and got our food, almost one hour passed. Some of us got starters as well. I got the gyoza, and it was friggin yummy!

7. Finally the food – and with it the sushi – came. I also ordered a huge sushi platter for everyone to try. I didn’t only eat sushi, but also a coconut udon soup with shrimps. I didn’t like that so much though, and my sister’s beef pak choi dish looked so much yummier. It was a great evening though, and by the time we left the restaurant, they were about to close :’D We were the last ones inside (11:45pm), but then again, it wasn’t our fault, since we did arrive on time.

8. Group picture with everyone :)

9. Me with the cute HappySocks I got from two of my friends :)

10. On sunday, I first had to unpack all my gifts and take photos of some of them. I loooveeeed all of my gifts I got and want to say thank you to everyone who came and got me presents. I am fortunate to have friends who know me so well :) The ‘One-Line-A-Day’ 5-year-journal is actually one of the things I have thought about buying, but never did.

11. And the Instagram-famous book is a book I just recently discovered at Urban Outfitters and had to think about my friend Giulia thinking about me if she ever got to see the book :’DD And then she actually got it for me :D

12. I just specifically fell in love with the Harry Potter pillow set <3 The trio and Hagrid look soooo cute! Hagrid is actually my favourite out of the four in this pillow collection :D Other than these gifts above, I got a Sailor Moon mug and a unicorn pocketmirror, an Amazon voucher and some bathing stuff, and I am gonna get a see-through umbrella :)

 

I hope you guys had an awesome first week of July. Mine was great as you can see. I was sick on my birthday, probably for the first time ever, but it was still a great birthday week with all the friends, food and swimming <3

Thanks for reading! See you next week!

Merveille

10 Things to do at airports during a layover

Having layovers can be hard for many people, but if you look at the bright side of life, you can get a whole new experience out of it.

I had quite a few layovers on my travels so far, and most of the time, it was very interesting to explore yet another different airport.

Every airport is different, and the smaller ones don’t really have much to offer, still you can prepare to kill time before your connecting flight, be it at a tiny or huge airport. Here is how:

1. Freshen up

Bildergebnis für airport toilets
Source: Pinterest.com

This is probably the most important thing to do after stepping out of the plane. For this, make sure you always carry around lotion, brush/comb, and a little bit of make-up in your hand-luggage. Body Wipes or roll-on deodorants can also be handy if you feel super disgusting. Some airports even have shower rooms, but I am not sure if they are free or not. Another good idea is to carry extra clothes in your hand luggage. If you were sweating too much, or just wanna feel more comfortable, it’s gonna save your life.

2. Get your gate information

Bildergebnis für airport flight information
Source: newdelhiairport.in

Many times, the gate and time won’t be announced yet, by the time you land. This is pretty common when you have connecting flights, so you would have to make sure to keep yourself updated in front of the departues boards. It’s more relaxing if you have 3 or 4 hours until your flight, but if it’s only 1 or 2 hours, and your gate is still not being announced, make sure to ask someone at the information desk when to expect the announcement. They will be able to tell you more.

Not only gates, but sometimes, you might even have to get your ticket during a layover as well. That happened to us in March when we were flying back from Dubai to Stuttgart with Turkish Airlines. We had to get our connecting tickets at a counter right after landing, and we only had around 1 hour in total until our flight’s departure. That was very stressful, and I’d prefer airlines not doing this at all.

3. Social Networking

Bildergebnis für airport internet wifi
Source: surfsonix.com

Posting your location on Facebook or an Instagram picture of your flight is almost mandatory when travelling. Of course, not only for entertainment, but also to inform your family and friends back home and let them know you’ve landed and are safe and sound.

For this, always make sure to have your battery fully loaded or plug it in at one of the charging stations at the airport. If there is none, take a portable battery with you and make sure that it is fully loaded as well.

In January, during my flight from Taipei to Shanghai, my phone’s battery was so low that I couldn’t text my parents after landing, because I needed to show the address to the taxi driver. My parents were extremely worried by the time I finally got to my hotel. It was already midnight and they thought that something happened. After that hassle, I will make sure in the future to keep my phone fully loaded.

4. Food and Drinks

Bildergebnis für airport food courts
Source: pinterest.com

Sometimes, the food you get on the plane won’t be satisfactory to many of us. How lucky we are that there are food courts even in the smallest airports in the world. It’s nearly impossible to starve on your layover. The higher possibility is that you’ll spend an infinity on deciding where and what to eat. If you don’t wanna opt for fast food on your travels (which I wouldn’t suggest), then there are many beautiful restaurants with great food options as well.

Other than a hot meal, there are lots of cafes, bakeries and shops to get some snacks and drinks for the flight. I personally love to sit in cafes and have a cup of coffee with something sweet to keep me energized.

5. Shopping

Bildergebnis für hong kong airport shopping
Source: newjetsetters.com

Some people actually buy a lot of things in those shops at airports since it’s duty free and you can find almost every brand at one place. Especially the cosmetics sections are very popular, and even I stroll through those venues every time I’m having a layover. It’s a nice way to kill some time, but also get freshened up with high-end perfumes (I am looking at you YSL). I even bought a MAC lipstick once on my 6-hour layover in Hong Kong, one that I have been searching for a longer time. And I also bought presents for my cousin’s two kids at the Disney Store at Hong Kong Airport. Usually, I buy magazines or books at airports, but that one time in Hong Kong, I just did some last-minute shopping since I still had some money left :’D

6. Extra Activities

Bildergebnis für airport cinema
Source: cnn.com

The biggest airports in the world have more to offer than just shopping and food. If you are lucky, you can actually kill some time in an airport cinema (Changi Airport in Singapore, Hong Kong Airport, Schiphool Airport in Amsterdam,…). I would love to try that out once if I have another +4h layover somewhere, but I would think about doing No. 10 instead.

Some airports offer a cultural exhibition. There will be a small section with utensils being exhibited, almost like in a museum. Or even performances to keep the travellers entertained.

In many muslim countries’ airports, there will be prayer rooms offered for free. And I am sure that many more airports around the world will have individual activity programs designated to each airport.

7. Sleep

Bildergebnis für sleep at airport
Source: traveltalkmag.com.au

This might be one of the most popular things to do during a layover, since most of the time you won’t be able to strech out on a flight. Plus, if the jetlag hasn’t reached you at your layover airport yet, it will definitely kick in after landing at your destination, so sleeping off during a layover might be the smartest idea.

8. Read

Bildergebnis für airport bookstores
Source: flydenver.com

If you haven’t already packed an exciting read in your hand luggage, then you might as well check out the books at your layover airport. If you are not so much into books, you can also get one or two magazines.

I personally love browsing through bookstores at airports, and I even got myself a great book once at the Taipei International Airport (“Crazy Rich Asians”). I don’t always buy a book, though, since I try to bring my own.

9. People Watching

Bildergebnis für airport crowds
Source: irelandfamilyvacations.com

At an airport, there will be people from all over the world. People you might never ever see again. People who look differently, and talk in different languages. And this is one of the reasons I love airports so much. They are the places where people from almost all nations worldwide meet. I personally love people watching; guessing about their lives, where they are going to, where they are coming from, what language they are talking. I love making stories in my head for just a few minutes.

10. Explore the City

Bildergebnis für airport express hong kong
Source: travel2next.com

Most of the times, your layover might be around 3 hours maximum, but sometimes, you will have extremely long layovers where a short trip to the city might be actually worth it. Many big airports will have airport expresses which will take you to the city centre in less than an hour (Hong Kong, London,…). Also, airlines like Turkish Airlines will offer a free city tour in Istanbul when you have +5h until your next flight.

Until now, I only had 2 very long layovers, one 6 hours in Hong Kong and one 3 hours in Dubai. The one in Hong Kong passed by almost immediately. I did almost all activities stated above except for Nos 6, 7, and 10. I could have actually gone to the city as well, but I have already been to Hong Kong several times, and I didn’t want to be more stressed than I already was. In Dubai, I had a layover of 3 hours which made it impossible to take a trip downtown, so I just wandered around the airport and looked around most of the time.

What about you guys? What are the things you love to do at airports during a layover? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Merveille.

Weekly Wonders: Streetfood Festival and Sunday Brunches

 Tuesday, May 30th + Wednesday May 31st 2017

We went to the Streetfood Festival two days in a row, although it wasn’t even that big. I have been to bigger ones, especially the ones I been to in Asia which don’t seem to have an end.

Anyway, first we ate some spinach and feta cheese dumplings at an austrian dumpling stand. The next day, we visited this stand again, for some curly potato fries.

On the first day, we also tried Tacos for the first time. Tacos are not as common here in Germany as they are in the US. We have Döner Kebab here, which is rasped beef meat filled in a wrap or a loaf of bread together with some raw vegetables like tomatoes, onions, beets and more. In my opinion, a Döner Kebab is waaaay more delicious and apparently, healthier. But I guess I have to try proper Tacos in Mexico one day.

For dessert, we had Frozen Yoghurt. It was good, but the toppings were just too little. The next day, in addition to the potato curls, we also had a Burger. It was nothing special though. I could have eaten something different instead.

The dessert was great, though. We had Choco Kebab. It’s rasped nougat inside a wrap which has some toppings you can choose from as well. It’s way too small but super yummy! <3

On our way back home, we had the most amazing sunset.

During the course of the week, I finished Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. It was such an amazing read! I love this series! The Lunar Chronicles is probably my second favourite series after the Harry Potter books. I think I love it even more than the Hunger Games. One of the main reasons I love it so much is because it’s a fairytale retelling. The first part, Cinderis set in New Beijing and it’s about a girl who is half cyborg half girl. And she is supposed to portray Cinderella of course. She even has a mean stepmother, and two stepsister, but only one of them is mean. And in the end, she even looses her cyborg foot :’D

The books have this excellent humour, but they also portray serious problems that could be compared to political problems of our time today.

Sunday, June 4th 2017

On Sunday, we met up to have an amazing sunday brunch at a restaurant called Cafe del Sol. The interior reminded me of a hotel breakfast area, and the outside looked like a countryside house which is typical for the USA, with a wooden front porch and a wooden swing in front of the entrance. It did have a mexican-american vibe to it. We enjoyed it and we decided to come back for the 1-Meter Pizza :’D

Last week was pretty great, although I had to work a lot. The week, as well as the weekend were both great! It was very food-filled though, but I guess that’s why it was so good ;D

Hope you guys had an amazing weekend as well!

Thanks for reading!

Merveille.

Weekly Wonders Part 1: 12 Hours in the city, Hello Lillet, Sunday sundaze

I decided to sum up my weeks and weekends in pictures for this format. I will only do this if I had an eventful or insightful week. I also decided to to write more reviews. Reviews about anything: Books, films, products, restaurants and places. I will either dedicate a day of the week to one topic, or I will include the reviews to the Weekly Wonders format, depending on when I watched/read/tried something.

So here we go!

-Friday, May 26th:

 

I started my day at Starbucks with a green tea latte and a new book that I picked up after finishing off The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank the other day. That book was devastating, heartbreaking, yet filled with so much hope and innocence. It was so pure, and that’s why it was so brutal. The dreams of a young girl against the background of the second World War, all the hatred, violence, killing, racism, intolerance. Having such wonderful dreams during such hard, cruel times, is so heartbreaking, that I just couldn’t keep my tears inside my eyes anymore. If you wanna know more about my opinion on this book, read my review on goodreads here.

After my sister was finished at the doctor’s, we went to Stuttgart to have some amazing brunch together. Egg in an avocado, as you can see on the picture. We went to a cafe called Netzer, and they serve some delicious, healthy breakfast there. I would give it a rating of 3,5/5 though, because the selection wasn’t too big and it had more drinks than food.

After our bellies were filled with food and happiness, we finally went on to do some shopping. We went to several shops like Zara, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Mango, Vero Moda, Calzedonia, Hunkemöller, and Promod. I tried on an amazing pair of pants as you can see on the picture above at Zara, and an amazing dress from Mango, all Asia-inspired designs and motifs. I didn’t buy them though, since they were 50€, way too expensive.

Here, you can see the things I tried on.

Bild 1 von CULOTTE MIT PRINT von Zara
Culotte from Zara, 49.95€
Kleid | MANGO
Dress from Mango, 49,99€

I didn’t buy the dress, but I bought a cute bag from Mango.

Umhängetasche mit metallgriff | MANGO
Bag from Mango, 29,99€

Other than the bag, I bought the book “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur from Urban Outfitters and some fishnet tights.

Bildergebnis für milk and honey
Source: Barnes & Noble

After our shopping spree, we met up with our cousin, his girlfriend and one of his friends to eat some burgers at the newly opened restaurant Triple B – Beef Burger Brothers. It is a cool spot, the prices are quite affordable for a filling Burger and the food tastes good. I expected a lot more from this restaurant though, since everyone hyped it up so much. So I will just give it a 4/5. After that we went to chill on the rooftop bar SkyBeach. The day was amazing. Hot and clear blue sky. We had some drinks and the others smoked hookah (I don’t like smoking, so I didn’t join) and we stayed there until the sun was gone and we were slowly feeling cold.

– Saturday, May 27th:

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In the early evening hours, we were invited to our family friends’ garden barbecue to have dinner together. The mother of our friend mixed some amazing cocktails for us, called Lillet. It’s a kind of wine that you mix with cherry Schweppes and put some strawberries inside. It’s literally the perfect summer drink. 

At night, we went clubbing. It was a fun night out, although the music wasn’t the best we expected.

– Sunday, May 28th:

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We slept through most of the day, but as soon as we were as awake as we could, we packed our bags and headed to the public swimming pools. It was pretty hot and it was the first time for this year, so we enjoyed ourselves a lot. We had books and magazines with us, so we could tan and have a relaxed read in the sun.

This is how I spent my past week. Since the days are starting to get longer and warmer, there are way more activities to do during the week and at the weekends.

I hope you guys had a great time last week.

Thank you for reading!

Merveille.

Last two weekends in Shanghai

After this one-week trip, the end of my stay in China was slowly approaching. Right after my trip to Hong Kong, I still had one night to sleep in my room back at home, but the next afternoon which was a Sunday, we had already our next train going to Shanghai. Our group this time should be a very different one. Ana and me have gone on weekend trips to Shanghai or Hangzhou already, but Josie and Ale never joined us, so that was a first time for the four of us. Although I wished that the others could have joined us as well, it was still a nice way spending my second last weekend away with my friends.

On my very last weekend in China, I was also invited to Shanghai by some new friends I met.

In this post, I will just point out what you can do on two Sunday/Mondays in Shanghai:

  1. Have dinner at the top rated restaurant on Tripadvisor:

    IMG_20160330_015649
    Since Ana and me discovered this turkish restaurant Efes after our spring festival holiday, we were certain to tell the others about it and make them try it as well. Especially with our foodie friends Josie and Ale, it was a must.

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    As I can recall, I had a plate of chicken kebab. 
  2. Have you last fancy drink at Bar Rouge:

    IMG_20160330_022252
    After our dinner, we went straight to the Bund to have some drinks at Bar Rouge. That was the second time at that bar for me now, and the drinks are still one of the best I have had so far.

    IMG_20160329_164250

  3. Go to the foreign language bookstore:

    Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
    I do have A Strangeness in my mind by now. My father gave it to me in german.

    On Monday, when we had our train back to Yuyao in the late afternoon, we still had some time left to do some shopping. Ana had to go to the embassy, Ale wanted to meet up with a friend and Josie and me went shopping. We split up as well. She had to go to Sephora and Nike and I wanted to get a new book from the foreign language bookstore that was just down the street from our hostel.
    But none of this could happen without having proper breakfast first.

    20160321_115303_Richtone(HDR)-01

  4. Stroll through Yuyuan Garden:

    IMG_20160331_141028
    I have been to Shanghai so many times, but only on my last weekend in China did I have the possibility to see the Yuyuan Garden and stroll through its streets there. It’s the perfect place to try street food and buy souvenirs. But the architecture looks awesome as well. It is a great spot for photo opportunities. 

    20160327_185810-01

  5. Try Stinky Tofu:

    IMG_20160331_023356
    During my stay in China, I swore to myself that I would never ever try Stinky Tofu, no matter what. But then my friends craved it when strolling through Yuyuan Garden, so I said “yolo” why not? My final thoughts are: Try it, because it basically tastes like nothing. You might like it. I will not eat it again, because I didn’t like the texture and the aftertaste is just exactly like the smell. Not nice.

  6. Visit a Jazz Bar:

    On my very last evening in Shanghai, we visited the Jazz Bar that is right in front of the Captain Hostel which is called House of Blues & Jazz.  That was my third time there, and it is weird that none of the times, none of us had actually thought about taking a photo there. A shame. It is a great bar and the people who go there really go for the music, to dance and just to enjoy the moment. It is not at all pretentious.
    Because I don’t have any photos of the Jazz Bar, here is a photo of a stranger having a monkey pet we saw on the street when walking to the bar.

    20160327_204936-01-01

 

When thinking back of that time, I was having mixed feelings. Both happy and sad about returning to Germany, to start a new life as I imagined, and sad about leaving my new friends and beautiful China behind. I do have a new life now, but it is not as I imagined. I am still struggling to fit in, and I miss Asia, especially China so much that it actually hurts. 

I don’t know what the future will bring, but I still have one last post left which will be dedicated to the last parties in Yuyao.

Stay tuned for some funny posts.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.

 

 

Beijing Part 1: Getting lost and overwhelmed

As promised, I am writing about my final trip I did around China in March, before I headed back home last year April. I still had Beijing and Xi’An on my list to tick off, so I decided to do the typical trip to those two cities. I heard many tourists and travellers take that route between the two cities via train, and I decided to do that as well.

That was not all, though. Last minute, before I left for Beijing, my boss told me that I had to go to Hong Kong one last time, because I had to extend my visa once more, for only a few days. That did piss me off, because I have already booked all the planes and trains already, and I could have taken the plane from Shanghai airport. This way, after arriving in Shanghai from Xi’An, I’d have to take the train to Yuyao, my boss would pick me up, take my suitcase, and take me to the hotel for me to catch the bus to Ningbo airport. Such a hustle can only happen in China :’D

During that one week, I took 4 trains, 4 planes, and 2 busses in total :’D If it wasn’t enough, we even planned one last Shanghai trip after I came back from Hong Kong :’D That was insane! Never travelled to so many cities in such little time :’D Almost felt like funforlouis :’DD

Anyway, my flight to Beijing was early in the morning from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. I took one of the earliest trains to Shanghai, and upon arriving at the check-in, I was happy to see a great seat which turned out to be an emergency exit seat. The views from the plane were great. The sun was blasting and the sky was clear blue. A pity I didn’t use my camera to take a photo.

I flew with China Eastern Airlines, and I really liked it. Everything was on time, the stewardesses were friendly and the flight was smooth.

I think everything was just too good.

After landing, I took the metro to find my hostel. I had the directions and I also had the address in chinese. I was doing fine, but then, I completely lost my way. It was ridiculous. I was already on the way for almost 3 HOURS!!! Walking around in circles, asking for the way, trying to stop taxis to take me there. Nothin worked.

Because I was so stressed, I didn’t take so many pictures. I was despairing. Finally, a taxi stopped and took me to my hostel. But he was driving in the opposite direction that I came from. I was starting to get really confused. Then, he just let me out in front of a construction and told me I had to walkd behind it to get to the entrance of the hostel since cars couldn’t drive there. It was ridiculous. Ive had enough. I walked and walked through bumpy streets with my huge suitcase and finally, FINALLY found the entrance. It was very hidden, the taxi driver was right.

I entered, relieved and they were looking for my room on the computer. And the bad luck didn’t stop. They said there was no room unter my name. I was panicking. I showed them the e-mail and the girl understood. I was at the wrong hostel. It had basically the same name.

Happy Dragon is a hostel name that is used for three different hostels in three totally different locations in Beijing. They called the hostel and asked if there was a room booked and they confirmed. The receptionst was so kind to organize a driver for me to take me there. And again, they took me back to where I came from.

As it had turned out, I had the directions to the right hostel, but wrote down the wrong chinese address. So guys, please, if you decide to book a room at Happy Dragon, double check which one it is you are staying at and make sure you have both the right directions and the right address.

I paid for the drive at the reception and was told that I got a room upgrade. I actually booked a dorm, but I got a private room. And I didnt have to pay anything extra. I was so happy, and even happier when I saw how clean and beautiful it was. The bed was soft as well. I was so tired and exhausted that I could just lie down and sleep. Even my hunger couldn’t keep me from sleeping for around 2 hours.

When I woke up, I was still tired, but I had to get something to eat and I wanted to explore the city a little bit. It was slowly getting dark, so I got out of bed, got dressed and left. First, I also signed up for the Great Wall trip the next day.

I walked to the metro, and since it was already around 7pm, the streets were full with people. The metro as well. I thought Shanghai metro was full, but the one in Beijing was even worse. I couldn’t believe when I saw how many people were still getting in.

I somehow got off at my station which was the entrance to the Forbidden City.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Of course, I wasn’t planning to get inside, since it was already closed, but I just wanted to explore the area. I guess I would have done a better choice if I went to get some street food somewhere.

After walking around the area, I quickly got bored and felt my hunger. I took the metro again, this time to find a restaurant somewhere. I didn’t have to walk too far from the metro station. It was a modern american-korean-mexican fusion restaurant in a Hutong. The area was very quiet and old but it looked very authentic.

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Nachos and a salad, Although I was pretty hungry, I didn’t want to eat anything too heavy at that hour.

When I was soon finished with dinner, the only thing I wanted to do was go sleeping in my warm, comfy bed. I took a taxi and enjoyed the late night views I got from Beijing. A beautiful, big city with a huge history, but very overwhelming for me. I saw the beauty of Beijing, but it was still very confusing to me.

What about you guys? What were your first expressions of Beijing?

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

Dubai Part 3: Gardens, Views and Sharks

Our third day was the busiest day we had in Dubai so far and that would stay like this. Thanks to my planning of trying to fit in as many activities as possible in that one day, we managed to fill the day up until the brim and collapsed on our hotel beds in the late evening.

By the end, we couldn’t even feel our feet anymore which is also due to the immense size of the Dubai Mall. 

Because the day was so long, I will dot down all the sights we did and give you an example of how you can see the most of Dubai in 14 hours

Lets start!

1. Miracle Garden:

Right after breakfast, we got changed into our cutest dresses and took the taxi to the Miracle Garden, the most instagram-able place in Dubai.

Entrance fee was 40 AED (10€)

And now, let the pictures speak for themselves:

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The entrance already looked magical
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This place was filled with tourists. It was really hard to snap a cute picture here.

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They built a tiny Burj Khalifa out of flowers :)
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The garden from the top of a small colloseo
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I found the cutest gazebo with the dreamiest backdrop
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This place was deserted and even more beautiful than the entrance <3
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Just hanging with Cinderella
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Entering wonderland
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Some sitting possibilities
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I found Pikachuuuuu~
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We found this amazing stand that sells icecream inside of fruit shells. I got coconut icecream in a coconut shell and my sister got pineapple icecream in a pineapple shell. Such a great idea!

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My sister and me posing with out capital letters
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Butterfly benches
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Some say that this is an original FlyEmirates plane

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We probably just stayed there for like an hour or something. The place is really really beautiful and impressive with all the petunias (I think that’s what those flowers are called) in all the different colours creating sculptures and pictures, so beautiful that you will feel like Alice in Wonderland <3

After leaving the park, we went to another sight nearby of only a 10-minute walking distance…

2. Butterfly Garden:

In this garden, there are hundreds and thousands of butterflys fluttering around the air, circling our heads. There are 4 different domes keeping butterflies that range from the smallest to the biggest species. Yet again, I felt like in a dream.

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My sister looks so elegant with all the butterflies on her body

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Here, the entrance fee was 50 AED (12,60€)

The people who worked in that park were really nice. They were trying to give us a great time by putting the butterflys on our hands, heads and bodies and showing us how we could take them ourselves without touching their delicate wings.

Because it was so hot and humid inside the butterfly garden, we were in urgent need of some refreshing drinks, so we took a taxi and headed to the Dubai Mall again.

3. Shopping at Dubai Mall:

The Dubai Mall is famous for offering various activities besides the main shopping purpose of a usual mall. I heard that the mall itself already opens at 6am, so that the people go for a run inside the mall because it is way too hot outside during summer. Then, there is the entrance to the Burj Khalifa, the Aquarium and Underwarter World, an ice rink, gaming halls and arcades for kids, and I think many more activities that we didn’t see.

First when we arrived, we had a seat at a cafe called Aubain which is right at the entrance and looks super cute with its white chairs and tables and the rest of the interior inside the cafe which we could only have a short peak because we were sitting outside.

From London to Dubai: Aubaine restaurant comes to the Middle East
Source: buro247.me

My brother ordere coffee and water, my sister had a popcorn frappé and I ordered probably the yummiest ice tea ever: Jasmine Rose Iced Green Tea <3

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After feeling energized and refreshed, we entered the Mall and went for a little shopping spree. We found so many amazing stores: Miss Selfridge, Topshop, New Look, Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret, several Cosmetic and Perfume Stores and many more. I only found some jewellery at Topshop. I was also intrigued by some bags and glasses but I decided they were too expensive and I could just order them if I needed to. At Victoria’s Secret, I was disappointed the most. I seriously don’t understand what everyone is hyping so much about that store. Of course, the runway shows are amazing, but no one is gonna walk around in angel wings. If you’d leave them out, the underwear itself just looks regular, nothing special. In my opinion Hunkemöller has way more beautiful and cute and sexy things offered.

4. Having pancakes with a view:

We were slowly getting hungry, so we went upstairs to look for food. I saw IHOP the day before, so I was dying to try that out this time. Two surprises await us: 1) we were seated at the terrace where we could have the most perfect view on the Burj Khalifa ever! 2) The price was really accurate, I’d even say quite cheap.

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I got hashbrowns and turkey bacon which were too fatty for my taste, perfect poached eggs and a blueberry pancake. My drink was freaking yummy! It was a mint-lime juice. So good!
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The view from IHOP

After eating up, we still had time until we could enter the Burj Khalifa which was at 5.30 pm. So we went outside to stroll around the area and take photos.

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5. Visit the highest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa:

When it was 5.15pm we went back to the Burj Khalifa entrance at the Dubai Mall and were let inside. We could skip the lines which was pretty cool and in less than 30 minutes, we were greeted with drinks and macarons at the top of the Burj Khalifa at Level 148 which only measures 555 metres though, compared to the actual height of the tower which is 828 metres. So, although the tower itself is the highest building in the world, the observation deck is not. The observation deck at Shanghai Tower beats the one in Dubai, at a height of 561 metres, and in my opinion, the view you get on Shanghai is way more amazing and impressive than the view on Dubai.

Still, it was amazing to be on top of the highest tower and building in the world.

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This part of Dubai was the most photo-worthy spot. The rest of Dubai looked rather dull and dry.
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More beautiful when lit up and you could even watch the fountain show from above.

6. Dubai Fountain Show:

We stayed veeeery long at the top. I think around 2 hours, until it got dark. After that we left the tower for good to go downstairs and wait for the fountain show. It starts every half an hour but only lasts for 5 minutes. It is said to be the biggest fountain show now, even surpassing the one in Las Vegas.

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7. Dubai Aquarium:

Our was still not over. Even though our phones and cameras were slowly dying, we still had the Aquarium. We wanted to have a visit since we had already spent the whole day in the mall. The entrance fee was not too high. We chose the basic entrance fee for 100 AED (25€) and could walk through the tunnel aquarium, go to the zoo and have a peek behind the scenes where they showed us how they were feeding the fish and breeding sharks which was suuuper interesting.

I learned for example that a species of sharks called ragged tooth shark or sand tiger shark have a cannibalistic breeding. When two eggs are bred, the baby sharks will try to eat each other when hatching, and the stronger one will survive. At the Dubai Aquarium, the shark keepers can now breed both. This cannbalistic breeding is also one of the reasons why this species of sharks is endangered. 

I can suggest you 100% to visit the aquarium. Next time I go, I wann do more here, even considering a cage dive into the tank or the manta ray feeding.

8. Eat at the Food Court of Dubai Mall:

Just like any other usual mall, the Dubai Mall also has a huge food court with many fast food restaurants as well as international fast cuisines, ready to eat or take out. We found a Lebanese place which served Falafel sandwiches and fresh even vegan-friendly dishes Because my phone and camera were dead, I couldn’t take a photo, but you have to eat at a lebanese place once in your life. It is extremely yummy and I am craving it so much right now <3

By the time we carried ourselves back to the hotel (with lots of walking to the taxi pick-up and almost being scammed by a creepy Lexus driver who seemed to follow us everywhere), the only thing we could do was take off our shoes and faint into our beds.

It was a long day packed with the most popular activities you can possibly do in Dubai.

What about you guys? Have you ever had such an activity-filled day during your travels? When and where was it?

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille