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Berlin, Germany

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Berlin is one city I did not expect to love as much as I did. From what people say about it, especially from Europeans themselves, Berlin was cast as an “ugly” city. But I found it to be strange and kind of eclectic—a quirky metropolis built atop and over a war-torn city.

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It may not be romantic like Paris or epic like Rome, but in a way, it is a city that has been rebuilt, and is still trying to find its identity, amid the aftermath of WWII.

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Berlin also happens to be one of the greenest cities in Europe. A large percentage of the city is park area, so you are sure to stumble across a patch or two of trees and greenery wherever you go.

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We stopped at one of the landmarks of Berlin and of the war: the Berlin wall. A segment of it, at least.

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It broke my heart to hear about all the stories involving the division into East and West Berlin. But I was fascinated as well with the stories of escape.

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Now the wall stands as a memorial of sorts, a reminder.

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Obligatory two-places-at-once shot: one foot in East and one foot in West Berlin

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The remnants of the wall look as pained as its past.

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After the wall, we drove around more parts of the city on the way to Checkpoint Charlie, another historic point of interest.

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Checkpoint Charlie is known for being the gate between the east and west.

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Around the checkpoint, souvenir items abound: coins, bags, shirts, whathaveyou.

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Drove across town to the famed Brandenburg Tor (Gate), another monument in Berlin.

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The Brandenburg Gate at the end of the boulevard

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The Gate!

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It was rebuilt/restored after WWII. And since then it has become a landmark in Berlin—where presidents made speeches and other such acts.

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Then suddenly, a bear and a soldier.

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After we visited the Brandenburg Tor, we drove back through the city to stop again at the Kurfurstendamm or the “Ku-Damm”, Berlin’s main street for shopping etc.

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I love the Ku-Damm because there are at least 4 H&Ms within steps of each other (lol) and the energy there is just amazing and infectious.

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Simply put, I just love Berlin! It may come across as rough around the edges, not as traditionally European or quaint as a lot of other capitals, but it has its own charm and undeniable energy. Some might say it’s sort of a hipsterish place, and I could agree—from the street art to the eclectic architecture to the youths you see in the streets.. There’s something definitely “hip” (not necessarily hipster) and fresh about the city, and I can’t wait to go back!

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under europe europe 2012 europa travel travels 2012 berlin germany deutsch deutsche deutschland wwII world war 2 world war brandenburg berlin wall city european metropolis hipster checkpoint charlie war cold war post war central europe 2012

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Money shot! Pope Benedict XVI from when we attended the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Italy, 2010.
Photo: Canon 450D + 55-250mm; Please don’t steal! Taken by my sister Stephanie Go
For the complete post: http://gogengo.tumblr.com/post/31038536351/papalaudiencevaticancity

Money shot! Pope Benedict XVI from when we attended the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Italy, 2010.

Photo: Canon 450D + 55-250mm; Please don’t steal! Taken by my sister Stephanie Go

For the complete post: http://gogengo.tumblr.com/post/31038536351/papalaudiencevaticancity

Filed under basilica benedetto benedict catholic church christianity church europa europe holy italia italy italy 2010 papal audience pope roma rome vatican vatican city vaticani vaticano viva papa portrait photography people

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Climbing the Cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica for the Best View of Vatican City

I am no athlete. The most I’ve done aside from the sporadic trip to the gym was probably a short dance stint back in gradeschool (my Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys years, mostly), high school (school plays and whatnot) and early college. But I am no athlete. So this unexpected trek up the Catholic Church’s largest basilica’s gargantuan dome thing on top definitely knocked the wind out of me.

You can opt to pay EUR5 to ride the elevator up part of the way (which I did, and recommend to non-athletes like me), but alas, the rest of the pilgrimage to the top is on foot.

The roof of the basilica—you can see the backs of the saint statues that line the square!

You get to be up close and personal with the dome interiors—and see the tiny churchgoers and tourists bustling about beneath you!

The walls are lined with gorgeous mosaic—these things last forever!

Now for the rough part of the climb—the walls become narrower and narrower, steeper and steeper, and I swear as you reach the “curves” in the dome, the walls curve with them so you have to walk with your body hunched over or slanted!

I’m not sure if this is a well known thing-to-do at St. Peter’s, but if you haven’t done it, I highly recommend braving the climb…

THE VIEWS ARE WORTH IT!

St. Peter’s square is miniscule from above.

The office of the Vatican—

And there—do you see the Musei Vaticani and Sistine Chapel?

I was out of breath and thirsty as hell, but man were the views so worth the climb.

What seems to be a perfect Italian day~

On the way back down, there are gift shops and cafes in the middle floors/mid-levels

You can even go right up to the backs of the saints that line St. Peter’s square! They’re HUGE in person!

See the big dome? We were at the tippy top of that! This shot was taken by the saint statues at mid-level

You can’t even really see the people who are still up there! It’s so deceptively small, but climbing it was a real challenge!

And finally, on the way down, here’s me and my brother popping some chips for sustenance. Hahaha

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

(We actually shot a video the whole way up but my commentary is too embarassing hahaha)

Filed under italia italy roma rome vatican vaticano vaticani vatican city italy 2010 europe europa church basilica saint peter's st peter's peter san pietro basilica di san pietro piazza san pietro Architecture catholic church pope holy holy seat

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Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City, Italia

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most visited and popular pilgrimage/tourist sites of the Catholic world. Over the course of my four or so visits to the place, I still haven’t quite gone around the entirety of the basilica. With hoardes of tourists bustling about all day, not to mention the long lines filing into the basilica, sometimes you’re left with not that much time to really explore the inside.

Usually, if you join a group tour, a visit to St. Peter’s is a staple when Rome & Vatican City are on the itinerary. But because there is just sooo much to see and do and eat in Rome, there often isn’t much time devoted to a single place, St. Peter’s included. We actually had about 5 minutes inside the actual basilica (after a 2 hour or so wait in line) running around taking random photos like maniacs. These photos are when we went back after our tour (since we stayed in Rome for ten more days after) and gave ourselves ample time to really look at the artworks, walk (not run!) around and just absorb everything. Albeit, we still weren’t able to see everything, but at least we had more time than we normally did.

(Photo Above & Below) The famedPieta,depicting Mary cradling Jesus’ body after his death and crucifixion. The details, especially the lifelike flow and movement of the cloth, is just one of the awesome aspects of the works of masters of yore.

All around the basilica, little “chapels” line the halls. Marble columns, gold, and religious (and some might argue, masonic) iconography abound!

Cool emblem things like these are also to be found

This roof thing is the altar, and where the Pope is at when he holds mass here

Sewage type grates, also in gold

Statues of past Popes and their surrounding saints, angels, etc.

I love this metal wallpaper-like pattern. Kinda baroque ish.

Lots of light gorgeously filtering into the hallowed halls.

Everything here is just so ornate and rich. It’s actually ironic that the beautiful (and very very valuable & expensive) artifacts and architecture and properties of the Catholic Church that pilgrims and tourists all visit and revere today are the result of the manipulations, conquests, blackmail, bribery and other shady deeds of past popes, who used taxpayers’ and religious devotees’ money to amass incredible wealth and expand the Church’s reign. (Saw that on the discovery channel haha)

Makes you wonder how extreme the Church’s propaganda was in the olden times when Twitter and Facebook and the internet weren’t in existence yet. Ha.

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm + 24-70mmL

Filed under roma rome italy italia europe europa travel traveling traveler travels euro church catholic basilica cathedral saint peter st. peter's basilica di san pietro san pietro christian pope history italy 2010

3 notes &

Peoplewatching at the Papal Audience

During the long wait for the Pope, there was nothing to do but zoom in and out and take funny/interesting shots of people. Hair looks really interesting as a super-zoomed in texture. And people have funny faces when they’re bored.

Photos: Canon 450D + 24-70mmL + 55-250mm

Filed under vatican vaticano vaticani vatican city citte citte del vaticano italy italia europe italy 2010 europa people photo portraits candid stalking papal audience pope benedetto papa viva papa benedict xvi benedict roma rome canon zoom lens

4 notes &

Papal Audience, Vatican City

To fulfill my mother’s religious bucket list, we arranged to attend an audience with the Pope while we were in Rome. We really had no idea how to go about it, but thanks to Google, we found out that we only had to email the Basilica di Santa Susanna to request tickets, pick it up the afternoon before, and on Wednesday morning we hopped on the metro bright and early to line up for the weekly Papal Audience.

Despite how early we were, tons of people were there even earlier. The piazza San Pietro was packed with zealots, devotees, pilgrims, and every kind of worshipper you can imagine. I am no zealot myself, but this was definitely a unique experience that I couldn’t miss!

It was a long time before the actual Papal Audience was to start, so what did we do but people-watch? It was quite amusing zooming in on random people and catching the most interesting faces or actions.

During the long wait, groups would spontaneously sing and cry out, “Viva Papa!” or “Be-ne-detto!” like a fanatic chant.

Groups of missionaries and students from different schools would sing and cry

The audience prepares as the Pope comes out

Finally, we see the Pope coming around in his white Popemobile!

The audience starts with the Pope reading some stuff (some prayers, some announcements, some wise things). It takes a while because he reads each thing in several languages—English, Italian, French, and German (I think that’s all of it). There might’ve been Latin too.

The Swiss guard, in their iconic uniforms

Church people and other delegates and security staff

Every time the Pope mentioned a country or group, they would stand and sing or chant or cheer. It was quite amusing.

The Pope. The Rockstar.

Cardinals. What a dramatic scene. The below photo begs for a “caption this”.

The media with their monopods and gigantor lens

Faces of the security personnel and Swiss guard

The Pope about to leave

Emo chair.

The Popemobile coming up to fetch the Pope

A couple getting married waiting to be blessed

The Pope back in the Popemobile waving goodbye. The secret to getting these super closeup shots is to wait for a few minutes after the end of the Papal Audience, when everyone disperses pretty quickly, then the front area near the Basilica is free and clear and you get to stand right by the press people to take better photos of the Pope! Patience is rewarded indeed!

And now for the money shots! He looked right at us! Yay!

Off he goes!

It was a long morning, but definitely a worthwhile wait! Even if you’re not a religious person, it’s a great experience getting to see the Pope and even the mass of people who went to see him. Definitely a must-do if you’ve got a spare Wednesday in Rome!

Photos: Canon 450D + 24-70mmL + 55-250mm

Filed under audience basilica benedetto benedict xvi church europa europe holy italia italy italy 2010 mass papa papal papal audience piazza pilgrimage pilgrims pope pope benedict rome san pietro st. benedict st. peter's st. peter's square vatican city viva papa worship zealots vatican

2 notes &

Weimar, Germany

Guten morgen, from Germany! I just had to keep this cute breakfast napkin from our hotel in Frankfurt. This day—it was a long drive from Frankfurt to Berlin, stopping by the town of Weimar (Vay-mahr), home of the school of Bauhaus.

It’s a cute little town, and it was freezing too. We had a few hours here, and most of it was spent snapping photos and blowing on our hands for warmth.

I love this building—so vintage/antiquey cool!

Outside a cafe, we spotted these three chilling with ice cream cones in hand

Quaint walking street

Bright yellow building

Another bright yellow building with salmon accents

The Bauhaus museum

Town center

Statue of Goethe and Schiller

Quaint street with shops

Flowers!

Hotdogs!

Cute pink apothecary building

Important-looking building

Huge shaggy black dog

Can you guess what this is? a GYM!!! How cool is that.

Another hotdog stand

About town

My brother goofing around on the benches. Composite of 5 photos.

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under bauhaus deutschland europe eurotrip german germany quaint town travel travels weimar europe 2012 central europe 2012 central europe