Friday 27 December 2013

Berlin, Germany II: Around Potsdam

I went on a tour to Potsdam which is the largest UNESCO site in Germany. I almost missed the tour because I took my own sweet time getting myself out of bed. I was still really tired and kind of lazy to go out. I managed to catch the tour group at the platform where a lady exclaimed, "Oh! My roommate!" I was pretty sure she wasn't in my room but she went on to tell me there was a free dinner last night and how breakfast was not too bad this morning. Potsdam is around 30 minutes away from Berlin, we got into a train then a bus. The guide brought us to quite a few famous buildings but I remembered nothing about them (sigh), the Dutch quarters which was really pretty and lastly the tour ended at Sanssouci Palace and Park where we were left to explore on our own. I remembered the Sanssouci Palace and Park better because I walked around by myself with a map. I had a bit of trouble finding my way back to Alexanderplatz but somehow a (what appeared to be abandoned) train station appeared and I hopped on it and reached Alexanderplatz safely.

How to get there? 
I've got no clue because I was following the guide blindly. The tour was EUR12 for students.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Prague, Czech Republic I: Castle, monastery, dumplings

After reaching the hostel, I rushed off to find the walking tour meeting point but I was too late.. Then I saw this huge group of people walking towards me, I figured they must be on some walking tour so I joined in. But 10 minutes later, the tour ended.. I decided to walk to Charles Bridge to join another walking tour (yes I'm addicted haha besides what's there not to like about it? You get to see the sights and listen to interesting stories). Then these two Singaporeans from the "10 minutes" tour came up to me and asked if I'm from Singapore because I was holding a NTUC plastic bag HAHA. (P.S. NTUC is a local supermarket.) So we explored Prague together for the rest of the day.

Prague castle didn't look as amazing up close because it was all burnt and black. :( We walked around the castle grounds and admired the the view from behind the castle, you'll get to see how beautiful Prague is from here.

There were guards outside the entrance to the castle! They weren't supposed to show any expressions, just like the royal guards in London but this baby made such cute faces at the guards that one of them had to struggle to fight back a smile! Haha.

We took a stroll around the hill behind Prague Castle and reached the Loreta monastery that plays a beautiful song every hour. It was so enchanting that we sat down and listened to the melodious chimes. And behind is another great view of Prague and this time the castle and the Petřín Lookout Tower "Prague Eiffel Tower") can be seen too.

Then it was time for dinner. After a little Googling, we decided on Vidlicky A Noze. We got a little lost so we reached the place with our stomachs growling loudly. Unfortunately there was a huge crowd and we waited at least an hour for our food to arrive. This is the first time during the trip I'm having dinner when the sky is actually dark (the sun sets at about 9/10pm during Summer). But the wait was so worth it. Our main courses included slowly boiled Pork Belly (K was so fixated on slowly boiled and kept harping on how delicious it sounded haha) which sat on top the most delicious mash potatoes ever, Duck Confit with small dumplings and what appeared to be beetroot and Beef with dumplings in goulash. Beef in goulash was heavenly, the beef was so tender it literally melted in my mouth and the goulash was really great.The duck was pretty good too.! The dumplings were not what I expected, they were quite firm and tasted like bread but I love trying new cuisines and the more it deviates from my expectation - the better!

The star of the night: Strawberry dumplings. A strawberry was hidden inside the dumpling which was sprinkled with castor sugar and drizzled with strawberry sauce. I couldn't shut up about how amazing this was! One bite was all I needed. Our guide told us her mother makes the best dumplings and she always ends up eating at least five at one go and I can totally see why. You must try this when you're in Prague!