#ByeFelicia

While I was having the time of my life traveling in Europe, I had received quite a few messages from women acquaintances or/and friends with a spectrum of reactions and questions.

“Who did you go with?”

“Why did you go?”

“Are you seriously traveling alone?”

“What tragic heartbreak led you to to embark on this journey?”

“How do you have the courage to do this?”

I ignored some and responded to few though with a side order of major annoyance. I wish the curiosity or nosiness could have been positive, lighthearted and more like “Tell me about your favorite cuisine” or “What was your favorite city?” because as an inquisitive mind myself, I’d think those are normal inquiries. But alas, I was stuck with a thorny end of a stick and the forever condescending tone that made me cringe and roll my eyes. Let’s be clear on a few things — I’m a grown ass, independent woman with an adventurous mind and when I want to do shit, I go ahead and do it. I don’t need to ask anyone and most importantly I don’t give two rats ass about sheeps opinions who are just robotic victims to their cultural and societal mores. I have varied interests and choose to do things that are organic, cool, inspiring and sings to my soul. I don’t follow, I don’t lead, I create my own path and I live for me. Traveling to me is a religion that has recently been awakened and because I understand the power of a passport, I plan to visit as many cities as possible, explore food and cultures, dwell in their histories and create memories that enlighten my mind, body, heart and soul.

I got immune pretty quick to the negativities I was objected to; i guess it would be a matter of pride and manhood if I had a penis instead but since I’m a woman, my choices should be cross-examined, pitied or felt sorry for. When planning, I seriously lack the patience to rely on friends/family to book tickets or argue with me on itinerary details; and I’m not sorry that I have the utmost freedom to wake up whenever I want in different cities, eat and drink whatever the hell I want and visit as many landmarks & museums I can without hearing groans, complains or how boring all these shenanigans can be. I’m very comfortable with myself and most importantly, I love and trust myself that I would no other. I didn’t have the time in my travels to be sad, feel lonely or wallow in despair because I was too carefree, running from one spot to another and simply in love with the different airs I breathe.

To answer the lame questions above, it doesn’t really matter who I travel with or why I chose to travel or what consequences made me travel because end of the day, this is my life, my rules, my reality. I will do me and people may continue hating or burning up in envy but I also hope that deep down, someone gets inspired and maybe live a little? or maybe not, who cares because these judgemental opinions won’t faze me and while all that yapping fades to echoes, I’ll still have the look that clearly says #ByeFelicia.

“Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God” – Kurt Vonnegut

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Infatuation with Berlin

I embarked on my first solo journey this fall and there could not have been any other city to embrace my soul than Berlin. Berlin has been on my bucket list since I was a teenager blogging on xanga and to finally make a trip there a decade or so later is surreal, to say the least. Now that I have sat down to write about my adventures, I kind of don’t know where to begin to describe my lovefest with this eclectic,  tolerant, individualistic city — perhaps I should start off with great-tasting beers that cost less than a bottle of water.

img_2276Berliner Pils

As an American, we have an ironically humorous definition of freedom. We are allowed to open-carry in most states but not open-drink on streets or in trains or smoke inside bar/restaurants. I was amused when I first witnessed Germans drinking beers while chit-chatting in trains+trams & I knew I had to do the same. So I walked into a corner store, asked for a local brew and the kind gentleman referred Berliner pilsner. I paid a measly €1.25, walked out to the bright sunlight, gulped 2 sips, cracked a smile and continued walking on Rosenthaler Platz. I had tasted freedom Europeon style for the first time and trust me, I loooooved it.

dsc_0074Streets on Jewish Quarters

Berlin is a grand city with many historic streets to gasp at and landmarks to sight-see. As a traveler, one should take advantage of the super-advanced, efficient, and timely rapid transit system. Initially when I viewed the Sbahn/Ubahn & tram map with all lines overlapping or interconnecting, I was slightly overwhelmed. But upon my landing at Schonefeld airport on that cold, autumn night, I practically had to run to catch Rtrain on platform 4 towards Friedrichstrabe and that’s when I had an epiphany of sorts — I ride New York City MTA on a daily basis and the level of high stress and anxiety I endure perhaps prepared me to deal with superior transit systems in other parts of the world. End of the day, navigating different neighborhoods of Berlin via train, tram or bus was effortless (at €3.30 per trip with transfer) and seemed like I was doing just fine without a car or Uber.

email1Beautiful trams

email2Nordbahnhof station

Before I delve into the details of my touristy shenanigans in this intricate, compact & methodized city, I’d like to share my spontaneous decision to head to a trance club at 1230 am via tram & Ubahn. Whether you are travelling with siblings, friends, partner or #solodolo, if you have an ounce of love for music, you must add a trance club in the itinerary. Germans party true, I mean they party hard all night and into the sunlight of 10am. Europeons from all over the continent go to Berlin to let loose because the clubbing culture is frank, open-minded and non-judgmental. I have been a witness to many insane things happening once I was granted entry into the club and even if my feathers were ruffled a bit, I went back to doing me, i.e. dancing to pure trance. On one of my respites, I made friends with cool french girls from Lyon who were in the midst of a snow transaction and were equally horrified when I complimented Berlin’s cleanliness. One girl chimed in, “noo, but everyone considers Berlin so dirty. You must visit Hamburg and see how clean that city is. Berlin is very, very dirty.” I told her I don’t doubt her words but she should give me the benefit of the doubt since I’m from New York & our streets and subways are puke-worthy filthy. The girls laughed, sighed and had heart eyes speaking about how they want to visit New York so badly, right after they snorted some of the good stuff. I smiled, took swigs off my pilsner lubs and was thinking that this is another wish off my bucket list; I have finally raved in Berlin & I’m in zen. It was an all-nighter for me at the club and I left for my hostel few hours prior to my flight out scheduled at 11 am. I will reiterate how super safe riding in the most-accommodating and timely rapid transit was to me but also be aware that the key to utmost safety is to have your senses intact, follow your instinct and apply common sense.

img_2291Raving for the trance Gods

I did not sign up with any tours groups to guide me in exploring Berlin. I did my homework from before and because of my passion for history, I also had an extensive knowledge of Berlin’s dark history. My first stop was Berlin memorial (more on next post) and to reach there, I walked through yesteryear streets of East Berlin and Jewish quarters.

Jewish victims of Fascism sculptures

I was greeted by these hauntingly painful sculptures before entering the oldest Jewish cemetery in Berlin & I knew the walk will be a tough one. This cemetery’s history is ancient (built in 1600s) & dire. During Hitler’s regime, gestapo destroyed majority of the tombstones & turned the cemetery  into a prison camp for the Jews. During WWII, this cemetery had seen a mass grave of civilians, soldiers & thousands of Jews. Walking around this well-kept cemetery & reading German inscription in the memorials, I was tearing up even though I can’t understand a single word of German. The sad history weighed on me and I realized I didn’t have the courage to visit a concentration camp this trip. I couldn’t cry on this journey I was partaking in & I promised myself that I will visit next time. Because with Berlin, there will always be a next time for me — deep infatuations never completely cease, you see.

Ackerstrabe