Trip Number Four (of Twelve): Berlin, Germany

My first trip to Berlin Germany

Trip Number Four (of Twelve): Berlin, Germany…

Can’t believe we are already four months into the year, and thus my fourth trip for the year to Berlin is now under my belt.

Thea's Trip number four (of twelve) Berlin, Germany

Traveling to Germany was one big adventure from start to finish. In this post, I will highlight some things I love (and hated) about Berlin….

I could probably write several posts about Berlin, if time permits, but here are a few thoughts I have after visiting Berlin. (One post I would like to write is how Berlin Compared to Glasgow).
trip four to berlin - sightseeing

Berlin: It’s Massive

At 891.8 km² – this city is huge and is very busy. With over 3.5 million people living there, and however many visiting at any given time, Berlin is pretty crowded everywhere.

So you need to work out how to navigate the city. Public transport is very effective, well once you get the hang of it. It may be about my favourite thing about Berlin.

There are buses, trams, Ubahn/Sbahn and trains. The best thing about Berlin was how all transport integrates with one ticket. Not only that, it’s the honour system. You walk on and off of all their transport without really having to use your ticket (except for maybe buses where I did tend to hold my ticket in my hand as I passed). But really once you validate your ticket in any machine on your first journey you’re pretty much “good to go”.

I totally can’t imagine Glasgow (or even Britain) doing such a thing. I loved it.

The Brandenburg Gate is an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin

Berlin Architecture is Amazing

For those like me who love looking at beautiful buildings this is a place for you. Do it on foot and consider taking one of the many boat trips along the rivers and or canals.

There are 170 museums and galleries, countless government buildings, churches, and monuments too – all of which, pretty much, were compelling. Seeing bits of buildings missing after having been bombed or shot at is pretty incredible. There is, and I guess pretty much always has been/will be, a lot of building and repairs going on after such an incredible amount of bombings.

So inevitably there is this interesting juxtaposition of old meeting new in Berlin. Or I guess in some cases new being built to look old. It’s fascinating. The downside of all this construction is that many of the most beautiful buildings had scaffolding around them or fences and so forth. Still it’s just one of those things.

The Fernsehturm is a television tower in central Berlin, aka TV Tower

Show me the Money – Cash is King in Berlin

One of the strangest things of note about Berlin, and the fact I loathed the most, was that card usage was less prevalent on smaller ticket items. So if you are going to Berlin make sure that you are always carrying a bit of cash. As someone who usually pays for everything with a card ans seldom has cash, I found that a bit disconcerting, even frustrating.

Even more challenging to me was the fact that there were not really that many ATM machines as readily available as I am used to in UK cities. Also a bit scarce for my liking, in such a big city, there were not tons of banks all over the place like they are here.

Again these are just my observations.

Thankfully I had Neil to pay when I needed cash and I eventually managed to find a bank to pull some out to pay him back! If I return to Berlin I will no doubt be more prepared, regardless.

River Spree Berlin, Boat Trip

Best Ways to See Berlin: Walk or Bike

I am a walker myself but Berlin is definitely a biking city with shops and apps to rent bikes all over the place. Neil kept trying to convince me to get a bike so we could ride around the city and see more but I wasn’t feeling it. I found Berlin to be overwhelming and bikes riding on pavements as well as the roads, cars coming at you from different directions and don’t get me started about pedestrians – it just felt too stressful on my first trip. Maybe next time I’ll feel more confident.

So walking it was. I covered around 25,000 steps each day on average (best was 28,000) and on foot was able to take photos everywhere. Ended up with over 500 photos between my camera and my phone. Will take a while to go through them all!

It was nice to see Berlin on foot and cover areas like the East Side Gallery, over the Oberbaum Bridge, passing the Molecule Man statue and so forth. In those five or so days I walked from one end of the city to the other and felt all the better for it. Well sort of. I think I managed to dehydrate myself, the effects I am still feeling in my body. Note to self: take more water next time.
Boat on the Spree Berlin

Or Take a Boat Along the River Spree

Another good way to see Berlin is by boat. It was one of the things I really really wanted to do and when it came to the opportunity it was the most stressful part of my own trip so please learn from my error in judgement…

I took the Sbahn over toward Alexanderplatz and got off early and took a walk. When I arrived there were several people selling the sightseeing tickets, and I hemmed and hawed of whether to do the bus or boat in the end as I only had a certain amount of time before meeting my friend Martin…So I bought a single boat ticket for fifteen euros from a guy Joshua, who was working for a new company that had just launched the day before (*first warning sign).

He told me to get on the bus and it would take me a few stops to the river where I would then be able to board the boat.

I got on the bus, (the only one on the bus – another warning sign) the new audio system was a bit glitchy. I finally asked the guy working with the driver where I should get off and I was effectively a stop passed it. He basically said go to the bridge and go down. He didn’t specify which side of the bridge, which way the boat would be going etc. It was supposed to simply be a hop-on-hop-off boat. Well could I find the place to get on? Could I F**K!

I saw a boat passing and figured I ought to be able to get on at the next stop since they were running frequently. Could I find the next stop? Could I find ANY stop? No…

Having a complete meltdown, unlike I’ve had in ages, I ended up walking all the way down the river to just opposite Berlin Hauptbahnhof. I was able to get on at the Reederei Riedel Anlegestelle boat place. The ticket they gave me was a one hour round trip so I had to go back there. By the time I got on the boat, I didn’t really even enjoy it. Next time, if I go back I will do better, for sure. The one I wanted to do was….The Bridge Tour of Berlin: The popular boat trip along the Spree river and the Landwehr canal shows numerous sights of Berlin – and more than 60 bridges.

Until Next Time, Berlin

Well that’s it for this post and perhaps I’ll be inspired to write another. Part of me wants to return to Berlin soon and part of me is in no rush to go back. The next trip, next month, will be Rome, Copenhagen, Iceland or Belgium…This time it’s not my call, it’s Kimba’s for her birthday. So watch this space guys!

Berlin Buildings from the Spree

Abraham Says Hi – A Little Greeting From the Great Beyond

Abraham Says Hi - inspiration from the universe

Abraham Says Hi - Thea's Things

Abraham Says Hi

It’s Easter Monday, lunch time, and Abraham says hi.

Though I have several other blogs in various stages of completion, I thought I’d write a quick one today about this,..the dream I had this morning. In my dream Abraham said “hi” to me.

Who the F**K Is Abraham?

Well Abraham could refer to someone in the Bible, but in this instance, I am referring to a set of beings that we may refer to as a collective unconscious or infinite intelligence – that are channeled through Esther Hicks.

Relax. I don’t really want to go too much into the spiritual woo-woo-ness of it all, my beliefs are my own, but rather am here to tell the story about my dream this morning…

 

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Easter Sunday Sadness

Before I get to the dream, I need to back up and tell you about my head space yesterday. I’ll be honest, I had a bit of a low-ebb Easter Sunday.

If you (or I) look at it objectively, it was entirely GOOD…Nice breakfast, a walk to Aberdour’s Black Sands Beach, followed by a lovely tea and scone after. Then I helped my friend John design his first book for KDP using Canva. I left Aberdour and had a nice drive on part of the Fife’s Scenic Coastal Route.

See? All good…

But, I just wasn’t feeling all that good.

I was feeling heavy hearted to be more precise.

Perhaps sad thinking about my dad and how he always used to say “Happy Bunny Day”…This the first year he didn’t say it…(at least not with his voice but maybe what Ralph Says it came in a different way today).

It was just like a dull gray cloud was over me.

That’s rare. I am usually pretty upbeat and finding the good in joy in all but yesterday I was just off.

Went to bed around my usual midnight and woke up seven hours later.

My Dream of Abraham

So in my dream, I was walking into a subway station (looking rather like Buchanan Street Underground in Glasgow).

A man collapsed to the ground and was a bit of out it.

Another man said to me “can you sit with him?” (Both men were attractive, I vaguely remember thinking!)

The collapsed man said, “Do you know Abraham?” and I paused not knowing how to answer that, and if we were talking about the same Abraham…

“Abraham?” I queried.

“Esther Hicks’ Abraham”.

“Yes.” I replied.

“Abraham says ‘hi”. He stated, and as he said that, my whole body was tingling. Head to toe. (This happened recently when my father came to me in an intense dream…)

Then I said “Wait am I dreaming? Or am I awake? Is this real?” And I looked at him, and around, and I exclaimed, “Damn it I am dreaming.”

As if to say “no, this is not real, It’s just a dream”.

Is it?

I reckon that if Abraham is real that’s exactly how it would come to me in a dream state, as there is no resistance to such concepts.

Is Abraham real or not? Maybe aye, maybe naw…

All I know is that I enjoy listening to Esther and Abraham immensely, so even if it’s not real, who cares? It gives me pleasure and it resonates with me any way.

For other people it may be religion or the bible or something else. Whatever works for you is my motto.

I feel like now my father is i the mix with Abraham so it gives me comfort to think that Ralph Says Hi too.

Abraham Says Hi Sweatshirt

POD Inspiration Comes From Everywhere

So as I started to “come to” after my rather odd-but-cool-dream, I thought, “there’s a tshirt in that”. It felt like a sign.

Imagine wearing an “Abraham Says Hi” Tshirt or hoodie, and all the other Abraham Hicks fans smiling knowingly at each other as if it’s a “sigh”.

Naturally I made some designs as soon as I got up today. Perhaps I’ll even make a journal to accompany it. Notes from Abraham, and the great beyond. Ha!

In any case, I’m listening...to Abraham to my gut, the universe or anyone anywhere who’s giving me creative ideas like this. It’s fun!

Frankly I’d love to be able to do what Esther Hicks seemingly can, tapping into that infinite source of wisdom, sign me up!

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a sign, this is it, Abraham Says Hi.

Fighting With My Family (And Other Flicks Seen This Week)

Fighting with My Family Movie Cinema Header

Fighting With My Family

Fighting With My Family (And Other Flicks Seen This Week)

This is just a quick post, mostly because I’ve seen a number of films this week, like Fighting With My Family, which I saw this evening and wanted to briefly talk about.

Last weekend, when I was looking on Cineworld’s website for what films were released, I saw the title and it caught my eye. I had no idea what it was about, so when I watched the trailer. As soon as I did, I burst into tears. Why? Because I knew it was a film Ralph would want to see. So of course I had to take him to see it, which I did tonight.

Ralph transitioned 3 months ago today. (Yes I am still marking time…)

Anyway if you haven’t heard of Fighting With My Family here is a trailer…

Seeing As Many Films As I Can in a Month

For quite a while I wasn’t getting much use out of my Cineworld Unlimited Card. I pay around 17.99 (GBP) each month, and for that can see as many films as I want.

Some months in 2018, I don’t think I saw any, but this month, March 2019, I seem to be getting my money’s worth (and then some). This week alone I’ve seen four films. Oh my!

Last weekend – a double header was What Men Want followed by Ben’s Back.

Then during the week was a film that my friend Stefan had mentioned to be back in January, Wild Rose (more on that in a minute), and that brings us to tonight – Fighting with My Family.

Learning about Wrestling

Ralph loved wrestling so much because it was something he used to watch with his own father. It’s not something we really watched together. (Or if we did, I had headphones on and would be streaming something else entirely!) It’s hard to imagine my dad watching wrestling with his dad. Honestly I had no idea that the sport was that old, or that the theatrics dated back as far as the 1930s.

Right up until the week before he transitioned, Ralph loved and watched wrestling religiously. My sister had even bought him a WWE TV subscription so he could watch all his pay per view wrestling matches.

Boy how he loved the theatrics of it all…and especially loved his wee Kindle App so he could stream it from his bed!

As for the film, Fighting With My Family.…As I said, I am not into wrestling at all, but guess what, I actually loved it.

It was arguably the best of the week’s worth of flicks…but it may be just because I felt my dad really enjoyed it, right there next to me.

“Cutesy” I think I hear him describe it as.

And it was. Plus, cooler still, it was a true story!

Wild Rose

The other film I went to see this week that’s worth a mention is Wild Rose. As I mentioned, my friend Stefan told me to look out for many weeks ago, so I was delighted when, earlier this week, Cineworld’s email came with a special preview of it. Why was I so excited to see the film? For one, it’s set in Glasgow (some of it filmed not even a mile from my flat). Secondly the city she’s trying to get to, in the film, is Nashville (one of my other favourite cities in the world). And if I can throw in one more reason to like it, it has to be the glimpses of Jamie Sives (even if he was a total pr**k in it).

Anyway Wild Rose was a fairly enjoyable little film, (in spite of Jessie Buckley’s foul mouth). Her accent was a bit strange at parts of the film but then I guess that makes sense she’s actually Irish. (Sort of amazing the talent that is home grown they had to go over the pond to Ireland to cast this one). But alas Jessie did a good job, so we’ll let her off on that one.

The Other Films I Saw

Not sure it’s worth spending any time talking about What Men Want and Ben is Back. The one thought I had after I left the cinema was I saw them the wrong way ’round. I should have seen What Men Want after as it was pretty upbeat and fun, two things that Ben is Back was not.

I am not sure what I was expecting about Ben is Back, but whatever it was, it wasn’t it. The acting was good, the storyline (addiction) was grim. I guess I am blessed to never been an addict or around any addicts. I would imagine that film would be damn hard to watch if you had a partner or a kid or a parent who was one…

Not sure what else is on the horizon but I tell you what I will do this week, is create a film journal so I can be writing some notes down about all these films I am seeing with my Unlimited card. Perhaps any of you movie lovers may like it too. Watch this space.

Click to see more of Thea's journals planners notebooks diaries and more...

PS: By the way, the worse film I’ve seen this year was Vice. Great cast, interesting story told in what I feel was a pretty terrible way. What did you think of it?

Trip Number Three (of Twelve): Aberdour, Fife

Trip Three of Twelve - Aberdour, Fife

Trip Number Three (of Twelve): Aberdour, Fife

By the first week in March, I’d already done my third trip of the year to Aberdour, Fife. I went up for one night and liked it so much I stayed a second night. Aberdour, Fife wound up on my map due to meeting the owner of a hotel John at one of my Canva workshops in Lanarkshire. He’d traveled all the way down for it as it was the closest one to his business.

Anyway John wanted to talk about an idea he had to do some workshops at his hotel so it seemed like a way of doing both in one fell swoop…Namely a trip away and a face to face chat about his concept for these masterclasses.

Aberdour Castle, Aberdour Fife

The Woodside Hotel, Aberdour

So along I went – this time last weekend to the Woodside Hotel in Aberdour. I’d known nothing about the quaint wee village north of Edinburgh – apart from the fact it had a couple of beaches (Silver Sands and Black Sands) and a castle that was featured in Outlander as well.

It’s such a quaint wee place with a good feel to it. I met Woodside owner John at their cafe McTaggarts to start off the weekend and then was taken on a walking tour of the area. We strolled down to the harbour, up over some bluffs from one of its main beaches to the other.

Across the street from the hotel is a street with big stone gates which leads to the Aberdour Golf Course.

Workshops @ the Woodside

After returning to the hotel, our discussions about John’s workshops at the Woodside began in earnest. I’ve tentatively called them Workshops @ the Woodside but they can be called anything. It’s an exciting concept of doing half and full day workshops in areas like: health and well being, personal and professional development and finally the their area is loosely called creative pursuits. Pretty much everything we discussed would fit under that heading.

John with a copy of my Essential 80s Pop Quiz Book.

John and I also talked a lot about music. He was one of the 2000 or so people that actually bought my Essential 80s Pop Quiz book that I self-published in 1998. As he couldn’t find his, I brought him a new copy and five others to do with whatever he chooses. (‘Beats throwing them in a skip eh?)

Break Before Dinner

After the walk and all the talk I was pretty beat and retired to my room, or should I say suite, for a few hours. The Rennie Suite is a lovely large room with bay windows, an ensuite bathroom that boasts a bath and a shower, and a separate small TV room off the main room.

Took the opportunity to write in my Scotland Travel Journal (available on Amazon websites around the world) and a bit of a power nap before dinner.

Clipper room, with roof from RMS Orontes, Woodside Hotel Aberdour

At 7pm went down to have dinner with John and his wife Lis (pronounced Liz) in their spectacular Clipper room – complete with a cozy fireplace and a roof that was formally on a steamliner, the RMS Orontes. Dinner was tasty and conversations a plenty. Around 9pm or so it was back up to the suite to finish streaming my latest TV binge – Northern Rescue – on Netflix. (Very good, I recommend it)

Day Two in Aberdour Fife

Went down for breakfast, and had a chat with John about music. He proceeded to whip out a large variety of cassette tapes. One was even of my good friend’s bank, Thrum. Told him to open up and read the liner notes…to see my name amongst the others. Before I knew it, it was time to consider making tracks back to Glasgow.

I loaded up my luggage in the car and came back in to return the keys, only to realise I didn’t really want to leave…

When John asked if I had to, I paused to consider it for a moment, and the answer was “no”. I could stay another day in Aberdour Fife and explore a bit more and that’s what I did.

Fife Coastal Path, Aberdour FifeThe Fife Coastal Walkway & Castle

I took myself on a long walk by the golf course until I could really go no further (without winding up in the middle of someone’s rounds) and headed back to the village. By now I’d worked up an appetite and headed back to McTaggarts for lunch. After lunch it was a scoot around the grounds of Aberdour Castle…Well as far as the gift shop where I bought a few cards. I was too cheap to pay the six pounds to enter, but I will go next time as the views of the castle from inside the gardens look spectacular.

In any event I covered a lot of Fife’s walkways this map on foot and will do more next time…

Check out more pics from my Instagram here…

 

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Enjoyed My Time in Fife

After that it was more of the same, food, bath, writing, thinking, sleep. Next morning it was a dash back to Glasgow for a meeting. I was surprised it was only an hour away (55 miles door to door).

I look forward to going back to the Woodside Hotel, Aberdour, Fife for the workshops or possibly some gigs, of which there are many cool ones.

Was great to see owners John and Lis, of the Woodside in the newspaper.

In case you missed it, here’s my Trip one – Balmaha and Trip Two to Largs.

No idea where I will go for Trip Four but watch this space. It might even be Berlin next month. Or maybe the Highlands. Who knows? Open to suggestions…If you have them, leave them in the comments below.

PS: In case you missed why I am doing all of these trips each month, it’s because I decided to as a way of celebrating my father by taking him with me on little trips. I believe it’s what he wants for me now…

 

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My Fitbit Versa Review – A Month in With My Swimming Smartwatch

Fitbit Versa Swimming Smartwatch Header

My Fitbit Versa Review - Swimming Especially

My Fitbit Versa Review – A Month in With My Swimming Smartwatch

I have been a Fitbit user for many years now. I have had quite a few Fitbits now, most recently the Flex and the Charge 2. I wanted a new health and fitness tracker and so my most recent purchase was the Fitbit Versa – which is the one that I’m going to review for you today.

After using it for a while now, I really just wanted to share my opinions and experience with it – what I like and what is not so great. If you’re looking for Fitbit Versa reviews, then this one’s for you.

General Fitbit “Pro”

What I like most about Fitbits, in general, is that they motivate me to get moving, on an hourly and daily basis.

I am one of those crazy people you hear about – who finds themselves jogging in place at 11:45 p.m.- in order to reach their 10000 steps every day.

In fact, I am “writing” this post by dictating into my phone as I pace around my living room just to get more steps…

Yes I am a weirdo…sometimes.

Other than my daily 10,000 steps, my main workout is swimming, and that is what I really wanted the Fitbit Versa for — my pool workouts.

Versa For Swimming…Yes or No?

I admit I am no Michael Phelps, but I do swim around three times each week, for just over thirty minutes, non-stop, doing the breaststroke the whole time.

I had been wanting a wearable device that would measure my laps, my time per lap and overall time for those fifty laps that I do.

That really was the main thing that I wanted it for. So you can imagine my delight to see that Fitbit had launched two new devices in 2018 that could measure time in the pool – The Ionic and the Versa.

Finally, I thought to myself! But alas, as you’ll soon see, all was not golden, as it were. I am getting ahead of myself here. Let’s go back a bit…

I Read, I Watched, I Hemmed, I Hawed, I Bought

Throughout the week before Christmas, while in California, I kept watching the price and reading the reviews and debating it.

Then my father died on the 23rd and the whole Fitbit research took a back seat until my return to the UK. (Besides, after Christmas the price had gone back up to $200, and then you have tax on top of that and I didn’t want to spent that much).

After much debate and many reviews read, I went ahead and bought the Fitbit Versa from Amazon UK January of 2019, as a belated Christmas present to myself.

So, I have now been using the Fitbit versa for more than 5 weeks and I thought I would report my results over the past month or so.

Fitbit Versa Maiden Voyage Swimming - A Fail

My Fitbit Versa Review: Regarding Swimming in Particular

1) The first thing I have to tell you is that the Fitbit has only accurately measured my laps two times (out of all of those workouts!)

It has been as far off as 10 laps, e.g. reporting 40 when I have done 50, but generally it’s 4-6 laps short. So infuriating…

2) I did see a lot of people claiming that it wasn’t good for the pool, and some said theirs had stopped working as soon as they swam, so I was a little bit apprehensive to start swimming with it to begin with.

Thankfully, in spite of its inaccuracy, has worked well in the pool.

Or, erm, I mean at least it hasn’t died on me.

Fitbit Versa Inaccurate for Pool

It has been helpful in timing my 50 laps – which is at least something.

3) As far as the steps go, I don’t feel like it is as accurate as the Charge 2 either. But maybe it was the Charge 2 that was inaccurate who knows?

One thing that bugs me about the steps is that, on the days that I swim, it counts my laps as steps which is odd to me. So on swimming days, I always end up with a super good amount of steps, which I guess is a good thing…(ha!)

4) OK, so it’s not all bad. I like the look and feel of the watch.
As the steps are so important to me I do wish that the numbers were bigger for steps because my eyesight is a bit challenged (I sometimes need my readers on to read the steps).

However, when I do swipe up, it does go to a screen that allows me to read the steps, total and for the hour, with ease.

It’s just that it’s more effort than simply tapping my Fitbit or turning my wrist and getting that quick glance.

Conclusions about my Fitbit Versa

If you’re considering getting a Fitbit Versa solely for the pool like I was, then I’d urge you not to bother with it.

Given just how off and inaccurate it is in the pool, I should have just sent it right back. My friend John thinks I am bonkers for keeping it.

To be honest, the only reason I didn’t is that I couldn’t be bothered do so, and then trying to find something else.

I will definitely look to replace it sooner than later though.

Have you got a better suggestion for me? One that works well in the pool? I’d love to hear from  you. Or if you have a Versa, let me know what you think of it and how you experience it. Thanks.