Guten Tag!

We’re in Berlin! Geez, this city has been through a lot! You wouldn’t be able to guess the hardships that they have faced because now-a-days it is pretty nice.  In fact, everyone we met from the different cities in Europe agreed that Germany is the leader of Europe.

When we were trying to get to Berlin, the German railways were having some problems, and we missed one of the connections to our next station, so we had to wait four hours for a bus, and barely made the last train to Berlin. As I said, it’s about the journey!

We were so happy when we got to Berlin, because we were going to stay in the Berlin Marriott! Oh, the joy of Marriott pillows! It was also nice, because we could eat breakfast and dinner in the Executive Lounge. bermc_phototour147

For our first two days in Berlin, we decided to do a Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour. We stopped at the Berlin Wall Memorial and learned a lot about the hardships they had to face up until 1989.

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After World War II, the Allies occupied Germany and divided it amongst themselves.

The Soviet Union had East Berlin, and the US, UK, and France controlled West Berlin. However, the Soviets were really harsh communists, and a lot of East Berliners fled to the West. The Soviets didn’t want this, so they built a wall dividing west and east.

IMG_2741Many people tried to flee, but few were successful . Some were even shot and killed.

IMG_2764The wall was built-in 1961, and it wasn’t until 1989 that it was torn down.  The younger generartion was greatly responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Fragments of it remain, such as the East Side Gallery which we went to next.

IMG_2782The East Side Gallery is completely covered with artwork made in protest of the Berlin Wall. Artists from 21 countries around the world, came to Berlin to paint their feelings and images about the wall.  It was pretty cool, and a lot of the things they painted apply to problems today.

IMG_2795The next day, we went to the Topography of Terror, which describes how Hitler came into power and was able to do so many terrible things.

IMG_2860Then, we went to Checkpoint Charlie which was where the American sector of Berlin was. It was one of the four places where you could get from East and West Berlin.

IMG_2882Many people made their escape through here.

After that, we went to the Brandenburg Gate, which used to be the entrance to the city. Now, it is a historic monument, but during the time of the Berlin Wall, nobody was able to access it.

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We also walked by the Memorial of the Murdered Jews, which looked very pretty as the sun was setting.

That night, in the executive lounge during dinner, we met a family that is a lot like us. They are on a trip around the world and they have gone to a lot of the same places that we have. You can check out their YouTube channel: FAMtastic4, and meet Rhonda, Mitchell, Autumn and Eden!

The next day, we went to Museuminsel, or Museum Island, which is, well, an island of museums!IMG_2960

We went to the Neues Museum, which was SO COOL!

I learned about Ancient Egypt last year in school, and I just couldn’t believe that I was standing next to ancient artifacts that we learned about from thousands of years ago!

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I could even read some of the hieroglyphics! I really liked the Egyptian sarcophagi because I find the Egyptian afterlife rituals very interesting.

We also got to see the beautiful bust of Nefertiti, which has been well-preserved over the millennia (but no pictures were allowed).

The next day, we had some really great bratwurst (famous German sausage) before we left to go to the train station.

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Auf Wiedersehn Berlin!    Dobrev Den Prague!

Keep Calm and Travel On!

Your Junior Worldtrek Reporter

Where do Dutch Hamsters Live?

Hamsterdam!

 That’s right folks, we are in the Venice of the north, Amsterdam! We drove from Brussels with Ali and Max and got to see the beautiful Belgian and Dutch countryside, as well as Holland’s famous windmills. I was really excited because we were going to stay the next three nights on a houseboat!
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Thank You, Kapitein Rob!

“Kapitein” Rob, the person who manages and owns a couple of the houseboats, was very kind and helped us with whatever we needed. The first night we stayed on a more modern houseboat on the Amstel River.  There is way more room inside these houseboats than you think.

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The next day, we walked through the city with Ali and Max to Central Station, and even in the rain saw so many bikes.  At Central Station, they are parked on multilevel parking units like a parking garage. IMG_2719
Then Ali and Max went their way and we went to the Anne Frank Museum. I have read many books from World War II including Anne Franks Diary, and it was interesting to see all of the rooms in the secret annex that she wrote about.  Anne’s father brought some magazines with pictures to the annex before they moved in so Anne and Margot could decorate their room and make it more “cheery.”  There was also a wall where her parents marked how much they had grown over the two years.  Anne said that writing was what kept her from going crazy during the time they were in hiding.

 

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Anne Frank, Otto Frank, Margot Frank, Edith Frank, Peter Van Pels, Auguste Van Pels, Hermann Van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer all went into hiding in the Secret Annex in 1943.  Their hiding place was discovered only a couple of months before The Netherlands was liberated. Sadly, only Otto, her father, survived.  Anne and Margot would have survived, but they caught typhus shortly before Bergen-Belsen’s liberation. Anne’s Mom died in Auschwitz in 1945.

 

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One of the women who helped them hide and brought supplies to them,  Miep Geis, found Anne’s diary and saved it.  Anne dreamed of her diary being published some day and her father helped fulfill that dream.
After we completed the walk-through of the secret annex, we went outside and found a great boat tour.  The staff was amazing!  Our tour guide ,Shiba, knew everything about everything!  She is getting her masters in history and loves learning.  She is coming to California this summer with her sister and we invited them to stay with us in Sacramento.

Also, the captain of our boat let me steer it for a while.IMG_2401

Did you know that the buildings in Amsterdam lean forward and have hooks on top so that you can lift furniture up one or two levels because the stairs are too narrow?

During the canal trip, we passed the most beautiful church in Amsterdam. It has a crown on top which was given by the German Republic because Amsterdam was such a good trading city.

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That night we went with Alizée and Max to a wonderful restaurant!

 

I tried my first creme brûlée ever! It was so good!

That night, we stayed in a different, more traditional houseboat. It was pretty cool. There’s a place on top where you can sit and wave at the boat tours coming by.

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We said goodbye to Ali and Max on Tuesday, and went off to the famous Rijks Museum, which is ranked among the top museums in Europe.

We saw lots of academic paintings. My favorite was the “Threatened Swan,” which was painted by the Dutch painter Jan Asselijn. It looks pretty accurate to me!

 

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We also saw some paintings of one of Amsterdam’s most famous artists, Rembrandt.  This painting is The Night Watch.IMG_2514

In Rembrandt Square there is a huge statue of him surrounded by all the things he painted.
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The next day we went to the flower market where we saw every kind of tulip that you can imagine.
IMG_2584There were even black tulips!

We were all excited to go to the Van Gogh Museum, where all of his most famous works our housed.  We saw his self portraits, one of his sunflower paintings, the potato eaters, and many, many more.

 

My favorite was the Almond Blossom painting. Japanese printmaking was one of Vincent’s main sources of inspiration and he became an enthusiastic collector, and the almond blossom painting is an example of the Japanese style that he used.

Our last night in Amsterdam was spent in a “gypsy wagon,” on a a farm in the countryside only 20 minutes from Amsterdam.  In good weather, we could have ridden bicycles to the ferry into the city, but it was cold and rainy.

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It was really fun because there were farm animals!
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My favorite were the donkeys which were right outside our windows.

In the morning we collected eggs for breakfast from the chicken coop, and made a really wonderful, farm fresh breakfast.

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Then we packed our bags and headed off to the train station because we are heading to Berlin!

Keep calm and Travel on!

Your Junior World Trek Reporter

Our Adventures are as Rich as Chocolate!

Your Junior World Trek Reporter is reporting to duty. Current location: Belgium! As you know, we took the train from Paris to Brussels, the capital of Europe, which is where leaders from all over the world can meet to discuss things within the EU, the European Union. When we pulled into Brussels, we were met by our friend Alizee and her cute dog, Billy. Alizee stayed with us for three months in California, and we were so excited to visit her and see her place in Belgium.

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Her apartment looks like something from HGTV. It is so cool! We dropped our bags off and then went on a walking tour with her around the city.

I think that the coolest place we went was the Grand Place, or main square. It is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. All of the buildings have little pieces of gold on the facades and on the statues. Despite of its beautiful appearance, in the 16th and 17th century the Grand Place was the site of hundreds of executions of witches and protestants and people who were enemies of the government. Ali taught us some things that only locals would know. For example, one of the buildings in the Grand Place isn’t symmetrical , and there is a legend about the architect. It says that when he realized that the building wasn’t symmetrical, he was so ashamed that he jumped off the top of it.

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Can you count how many flagpoles on either side of the center tower?

Don’t try this at home. These days the Grand Place is used for many festivals.

Probably the most popular landmark in Brussels is Manneken Pis. He’s a pretty funny statue, because he is just a 3-foot-tall peeing baby. The legend is that he saved Brussels from mass destruction by peeing on a fire. Well, Brussels sure has an interesting history! Mannequin Pis was pretty busy, so we went and saw his sister, Janneke Pis. I have also heard that they have a dog, Zinneke Pis. Who wouldn’t want to see a peeing family?

 

After our tour, we took the tram back to her place  where we had a wonderful homemade dinner, which we had been craving since we had only been eating out. We got to meet Ali’s  boyfriend, Max, who is super nice. I enjoyed playing soccer with cute little Billy as well.  When traveling, it’s always nice to meet dogs and cats from around the world.

The next day, we went to Bruges, which is a nice little town outside of Brussels. Running all through the town are medieval canals, like a mini-Amsterdam.

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There are lots of antique shops, as well as comic book stores. Did you know that Belgium has the most comic strips artists in the world. Some of your favorite comic strips came from Brussels, like TinTin!

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TinTin, or Rin Tin Tin (in USA) was created by Belgian cartoonist Herge, in 1929

We tried Belgian Fries with mayonnaise, which is how they eat them. They are actually really good that way!

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After our little expedition to Bruges, we went back to Brussels.

We had a traditional Belgian meal at Au Vivux Spytigen Duvel, in Brussels.

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The name is a mouthful, and so was the food, if you know what I mean. All of the sauces were thick and creamy, and there were lots of beer options (for adults, of course).

When we got back to Alizee’s house, we dyed Easter eggs, which she and Max had never done before.

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It was fun to introduce our friends to an American Easter tradition!

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The next day, Easter Sunday, I woke up and had a basket full Belgian chocolate, including an easter bunny!

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Then, I searched for all of the Easter eggs with a little help from help from Billy.

 

 

 


Then my moms and I went to the MIM, the Musical Instrument Museum one of the best in the world! There are over 7,000 instruments in the museum from all different ages and places! The building that the MIM is in had survived both World Wars.

 

Some of you know that I play the violin and piano, and I was so excited to see all of the different instruments! Some of them looked really weird. Through the audio tour, we got to listen to the different sounds that they make and even experienced playing some of them.

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They were very different from the ones we have today, I’ll tell you that! They had many different violins, in many shapes and sizes!

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Once we got our fill of instruments, we went back to the apartment. Alizee and Max had prepared us a wonderful Easter brunch!

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Beautiful and traditional European brunch 

My favorite item on the menu was the little pancake sandwich with smoked salmon, la crema,  shallots, and red onion.

After brunch, we and Alizee and Max packed our bags, because we are all going to Amsterdam!

Keep Calm and Travel On!

Your Junior World Trek Reporter

Bonjour from Paris!

We are having a wonderful time in this amazing city! It was a little bit of a slow start because we were still jet-lagged, but we pushed through! On our first day, we took a Big Bus tour around the city to get a feel for things. Then, we went to the Arc de Triumph. It’s MASSIVE! IMG_E1513It was built to honor those who have fought and died for France. I wish that we had something so monumental like that in America. After that, we walked down a famous boulevard called Champs Elysees, which is arguably the most famous street in the world. By the way, the McDonald’s on Champs Elysees and other locations in Paris are way better than America. They have touch screens to order your food and they have different flavors of ice-cream and sauce for their McFlurries. We were getting a little bit tired, so we went to a cafe to get some hot beverages. That’s what a lot of Parisians do. They have a nice break during the day to relax, talk with friends and get some energy. After our break, we did a little bit more walking and then decided to have dinner. We ate at a nice Italian place close to our hotel. The next day, we woke up and took the metro to Notre Dame. I would definitely recommend getting metro tickets, because it makes it really easy to get around. Notre Dame was awesome.IMG_1638 If you don’t know about it, it is a huge gothic cathedral that was first built in 1163. Since then, there have been many modifications to keep up to the religious standards. Inside the cathedral, there are some of the most famous stained glass windows in the world. IMG_1651They were very beautiful. Just when we were going to leave, mass began and the pipe organ started to play, so we stayed a little longer. What a treat! IMG_1667 It was almost time for dinner, and my parents knew the perfect place to go. We went to Julian’s, an old restaurant that has been around since the French Revolution. The artwork on the walls is very pretty, and many of the locals go there to eat. The food was really good, too. I tried foie gras for the first time and like it!  Our meal ended at 11:00pm, which is typical in Europe.

One of our best days in Paris was the day that we went to Musee d’Orsay. OMG! It was so beautiful! IMG_1723I would say that it is the coolest museum that I have ever been to. It is built inside an old train station and it is really big. The museum is quite new, thought the structure isn’t. The train station was built in the late 1890s. The idea to turn the train station into an art museum was proposed in the late 1970s, and after a lot of work, it was finally opened in 1986. My favorite floor was the Impressionistic floor. It had paintings made by some of my favorite artists: Cezanne, Monet, Degas and Van Gough….We saw some of the most famous paintings in the world, including Dance at Le moulin de la Galette by Renoir and the bronze edition of Degas’ Little 14 year old Dancer.

 

We also saw some academic paintings from Gustave Courbet, and I really like how they each tell a story. IMG_1784Another cool room was the Van Gough room, which had many recognizable masterpieces, such as his most famous self-portrait and Starry Night over the Rhone.

 

I also liked the statues as well. One room had paintings that took up the entire wall because they were so big! If you ever go to Paris, you should plan to go to Musee d’Orsay.

Our last day in Paris we spent in Giverny. It is a little town about a 45 minute train ride away where Claude Monet, an Impressionist, owned a summer home. He had a huge garden, which he said was his “greatest masterpiece.”  We saw the lily pond which inspired many of his paintings, as well as the curved bridge.

 

Also, we toured his house and saw his studio. I loved all of the flowers, and I am sure that there are many more flowers when it is warmer. We took the train back and experienced metro rush hour, when everyone is trying to get back home after work. There were floods of people going every direction, but somehow we made it out alive. When we finally got home, I was ready to relax, but then at the last-minute, I decided to go out with my mom to see all of the monuments at night when they are illuminated. If you go to the Eiffel Tower during the first five minutes of every hour when it is dark, there is an amazing light show. It’s kind of hard to explain, but if you have the chance, you need to see it! IMG_1922Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was built for the World’s Fair in 1889 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French republic. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel has been given the credit for designing the tower, but he collaborate with his assistant Maurice Koechlin, who came up with the design.   Many people wanted it torn down after the World’s Fair, because they thought is was an eye sore.  Hitler wanted to tear it down, but he never ended up accomplishing the destruction, thank goodness, because the tower is the most visited tourist attraction in the world!  Another fun fact is that Eiffel and Koechlin also helped design the structural aspects of the Statue of Liberty.  After being mesmerized by the tower, tried some crepes; the sweet and savory kind. At first, I wasn’t so sure about a salmon crepe, but it grows on you! We also had a chocolate crepe, and that was delicious. We made one last stop at the Arc de Triumph, walked down the Champs Elysees and then took the metro back home.IMG_1957 It was 12:30 pm when we got to our hotel, and we fell right to sleep. The next day we packed our bags and headed off to the train station to get a ride to our next destination, Brussels. Au revoir, Pairs!

Keep Calm and Travel On!

Your Junior World Trek Reporter

It’s Not Always About the Destination…

Don’t Forget About the Journey!

To get to our destination, we first had to drive to Oakland to catch our flight.

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Yes, that is a Rolls Royce engine!

Our plane took off at 8:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, and we could only watch one movie before we had to sleep so that we could stay awake the next day.

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Once we landed in London, we took a train to the St. Pancras Station.  The cool thing about this was that it was right next to King’s Cross Station, and if any of you know anything about Harry Potter, you’ll know that this is where Platform 9 3/4 is.

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So, naturally, I had to go and check it out.

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After that, we headed back to St. Pancras Station to catch our next train, the EuroStar.

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Travels up to speeds of 170 KM/second (110 mph)!

Now, the EuroStar is no ordinary train. It runs underneath the English Channel, connecting England to France. So, you can start off in London and pop up three hours later in Paris. It was a long process to find a car to take us to our hotel once we got to Paris, I’ll tell you that. However, if you want to travel anywhere, especially to a busy place like Paris, you have to accept the fact that you might be stranded at a train station in the middle of the night. As I said, ‘Don’t forget about the journey!’ So, now we are here in Paris and we are definitely going to have a good time! Au Revoir!

Keep Calm and Travel On!

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Your Junior World Trek Reporter

Europe 2018

Here we go again! Your Junior World Trek Reporter is back after missing in action for two and a half years! I know what you’re thinking: “Surely you can’t be serious!” Well, I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley! We are going on a three-week long journey to six different European countries: the United Kingdom (England), France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and the Czech Republic. It won’t be as long as the Trip Around the World was, but I am just as excited. So, remember, stay tuned and Keep Calm and Travel On!

(P.S. Like my new tagline?)

 

Thank You! Arigato (Japan), Khob khun (Thaliland) — Logged Miles: 26,851

Thank You –Part Two 

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Can you guess where this is?

Mariko is our dear friend from Japan.

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She was our tour guide once before when we went to Tokyo.

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The first of many, many sushi meals– one of my favorite foods in the world!

Mariko held a party for us and I would like to thank everybody who came for the lovely birthday party and gave me birthday and welcome to Japan presents.

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Her friends let us stay in their beautiful traditional Japanese home  in Kobe.  We couldn’t have asked for more in our home away from home. I want to tell you how wonderful it was to come home each night to a beautiful place.

Mariko and her friends organized many fun things for us:

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I especially enjoyed the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony.  Our teacher demonstrated a traditional tea ceremony for us. She showed us all of the tools and postures that you should use in a traditional tea ceremony. I was very amazed.

 

Going to the Harry Potter world was a real highlight for me, for sure!

 

Kazu, who is a high school friend of Mariko’s, treated us to a traditional Japanese meal and showed us around Kyoto.

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She was very fun and we can’t wait to see her this summer in May and June 2016 when she and Mariko will come to visit us in America.

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I also loved  meeting Mariko’s friends in Nara….

And in Nara…. We would like to thank the famous roof tile artist who showed us how to make a Japanese roof tile.I found them very interesting and enjoyed making one myself.

I now have the tile in my room, so I see it every day!

We were sad to say goodbye to Mariko, but know we will see her soon in the U.S. — in just six weeks, now!

It was time to go to Thailand!

Oh my goodness in Bangkok, Ploy, was amazing. She was a foreign-exchange student in our neighborhood the year before we went on our trip.  My Mom taught her how to swim and she spent some time around my swim team.

When she learned we were traveling to Thailand she offered to show us around. Thank goodness – Bangkok is wonderful, but hot and crazy – crazy traffic, crazy crowds, but we were so fortunate.

Ploy took us to see all the amazing temples and historical landmarks, Some with her friend Pear.

We especially enjoyed the floating markets, the street food,

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and the Bangkok Renaissance – Marriott – executive club lounge level where we could go into the air conditioning and have food from all over the world!

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Khob Khun to Ploy again and again….and we were off to Phuket!

In Phuket, we had a marvelous time being lazy and going to the beach. It was beautiful when we took a sailing tour to their offshore islands and had an awesome lunch with a little, funny monkey.

And you might remember my moms really enjoyed their Thai massages, here, too!

Unfortunately, because of the terrible earthquake disaster in Nepal, we are not able to go to Kathmandu next.  So, we took a flight to South Africa two weeks early.  We flew to Kuala Lumpur to Doha, on one of the world’s top airlines, Qatar, to Capetown, South Africa.

Total RTW miles  logged upon leaving Phuket is 26,851. If any of these areas of the world interest you, you may refer back to my original blog for that area of the country. Or ask me any questions — I would love that!

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I have many more people to thank and much more to be grateful for……

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so stay tuned for more posts from your Junior Worldtrek Reporter

Keep calm and travel around the world.

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