Brrrrrrrrrr-lin

When I tell the Europeans that I’m Canadian, their first response is: “Oh, so you must be used to this cold then. This must be nothing.”

My response? “Actually, I’m a Vancouverite…we’re wimps.” I have been freezing my butt off in Berlin for the last two days and simultaneously loving it and wondering if my toes are still there.

My last days in Geneva were balmy compared to Berlin. We wandered around the Old Town area, saw the Jet D’eau (the tallest water fountain in the world), checked out the crypts under the cathedral, looked at a lot of watches that we couldn’t afford…that sort of thing.

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One of the areas I quite liked was Carouges, an older, artsy neighbourhood of Geneva. We also went to go see the UN building, which had this enormous chair with a broken leg sitting right outside. I kind of wondered what would happen if a giant attempted to sit on it. Overall, it was a great and enormously international city.

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I’ve found Berlin to feel very different. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that Berlin feels that it’s brimming over the edge with memories. I actually have liked it a lot, despite the fact that there is snow everywhere and I can barely feel my fingers at the end of the day. On our first day, we went on a tour that touched upon most of Berlin’s biggest monuments and areas. It was actually really interesting, and I think I understood a lot more out of the city’s history than if I had simply wandered around on my own.

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We also discovered an amazing chocolate place that we’ve now been to twice – it used to be the chocolatier for the royal family. Today was full of Christmas market shopping. I am probably lucky that I only have one backpack, because if I didn’t have a space constraint I would’ve bought an extraordinary amount of stuff. Instead, I had to cry inside and walk away (and buy myself things that can fit in my stomach, instead…)

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We also went to go see the government building, which was pretty cool. You got to walk up this dome at the top, and I’m sure if it hadn’t been covered in snow it would’ve been a great view. Instead, I got to study the icicles pretty closely and guess at what half the city looked like. It was still worth it though.

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I’m pretty tired now, but one more week before I go home! Tomorrow is a bit more of Berlin, and then off to Copenhagen, where I’m hoping for a few degrees higher in temperature. (I’m funny, aren’t I?)

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Sun and Snow

It’s been an absolutely beautiful day today and what have I done all day? Stayed inside and worked on homework. Ah, such is the life of the university student.

It’s rare that we have days that are both snowy and sunny, but today was gorgeous. Absolutely freezing (and so it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t leave my house as I am cold-blooded to begin with), but gorgeous.

I went for dinner at Hapa Umi downtown yesterday (http://www.hapaumi.com/). I’ve been to the Hapa Izakaya on Robson, and I always love it, but Hapa Umi is definitely its upscale older sister. (Gee, I wish I could be the upscale older sister. Instead, my little sister usually out-glams me by a mile.) We had two sushi rolls (the salmon salsa battera and the umi roll), squid and sausage, kakuni and scallops, bacon and kimi ishiyaki and kani pasta. It sounds like we were pigs, but there was four of us and the dishes are pretty small. My favourite was definitely the kakuni and scallops – pork belly and scallops, how could you go wrong? It was so beautifully laid out too. Unfortunately, my picture sucks because my family was rushing me so that they could hurry up and eat it.

My only problem is that you only get two scallops. Who could be content with two scallops? (Or in my case, half a scallop, since it was split among four people.) Oh, for the days at Google when I had unlimited scallops for lunch…that was a glorious day. I think I ate ten. It was a bit disgusting, really.

While procrastinating tonight, I also watched the Golden Globes (though I taped it and skipped past the boring acceptance speeches). I don’t really watch them for the awards – it’s just an excuse to check out what the dresses look like (and in all honesty to drool over the good-looking men in tuxes). One day, once I’ve won the lottery three times and become a multi-bazillionaire, I’m going to throw a ball just to have an excuse to wear an extremely fancy dress. I would probably trip on the hem and promptly fall on my face, but for that one shining moment where I was leaning on something and therefore stable I would really enjoy myself. I’ll add it to my dreams of a house with a gigantic library and a permanent vacation home in the Caribbean.