Der Voyage Vacations

Three more days

We’re almost done. We have one more day fluttering around Berlin, then we hop an overnight train to Amsterdam for the last leg of our trip. It’s been wonderful.

Berlin is a fantastic city, by the way. I didn’t necessarily expect it to be as such, but I’m very glad we included this stop in our itinerary.

Der Voyage Vacations

San Francisco Mission Burrito Photos

Being San Franciscans, we couldn’t pass up a trip to Dolores, a burrito joint in Berlin that boasts “authentic” Mission-style burritos. Well. We’ll be the judge of that! Harumph! I say! *monocle*! Here is the umpteenth review of the place that will hopefully satisfy your curiosity, at least for a little while.

One thing’s for sure: they’ve got the drink selection down. All the staples are here: Negra Modelo, Dos Equis, Pacifico, Anchor Steam (!), bottles of Coke, and uh… Pellegrino and “Bionade.” Good enough.

This bottle of Anchor is a rare case of something being imported FROM the USA. Welcome to bizarro world:

Here’s Anna dwelling where her apartment once stood, but was then coldly replaced by a doorway:

The burritos arrive, but unfortunately, negative points must already be assigned:

  • the burritos are loosely packed and wrapped in plastic and paper rather than aluminum foil
  • the chips are very thin, few in number, and cost €1.30

Pretty tasty guacamole, though.

    The interior of my burrito. Unfortunately, more negative points:

    • The carnitas is not freshly cooked
    • I ordered pinto beans, I got “refried beans”
    • The rice is also kind of mushy
    • The salsa roja has three “fire” icons next to it on the menu but is less than mild in comparison to pretty much any salsa I’ve had in San Francisco
    • The tortilla isn’t warm, and is obviously not cooked in lard like it is at Cancun or Farolito

    But probably the biggest offender: there is lettuce in the burrito! Like, mouthfuls of the stuff. Where am I, Qdoba?

    But despite all my whining, Dolores still serves what is, by all definitions, a burrito. Maybe not as authentic as the stuff you’d get in the Mission itself, but you walk away with a stomach packed with pretty much the same ingredients, so you can’t complain THAT much.

    Der Voyage Vacations

    Florence photos

    We spent a couple of days in Florence as the second leg of the Italy portion of our trip. Florence is beautiful, and quaint – at least in comparison to the really large European cities.

    The city center is very tourist-centric, full of clothing shops and restaurants. We’re not big on shopping, so we spent a lot of time walking around and just enjoying the old streets, and soaking in the atmosphere. We ate some great pizza and pasta, and some amazing gelato from a place called GROM (thanks to Jeffrey’s friend Ben for all the recommendations!). GROM also had spectacular hot chocolate … which we can say truthfully because we had it two times over the course of our visit.

    We also visited the Uffizi Gallery, which, as you can imagine, had a lot of really really old art and sculptures. Very cool.

    Here are some photos! It rained a lot while we were there, so we didn’t take too many.

    Anna next to the “Anna” store:

    Streets of Florence:

    The Arno River and Florence hillside:

    View from Giotto’s Campanile (we climbed many many steep stairs to get up there):

    Top of Giotto’s Campanile in the daytime:

    Top of the Florence Cathedral:

    Steps to the Piazzale Michelangelo:

    Jeffrey makes a new friend on the steps:

    We found a cemetery on the way to the Piazzale Michelangelo:

    We got this photo from the top of the Piazzale before it started pouring rain – too much rain to take any more. At that point, we decided to leave for Rome.

    Der Voyage Vacations

    Bye bye, Italy.

    We spontaneously took this photo on our last day in Italy, in Rome, on our way to see some famous monuments and stuff.

    We are in Berlin now. Today I bought pink Lego earrings and a vinyl compilation of San Francisco bands from 1985. Good times.

    Der Voyage Vacations

    Cinque Terre photos

    We are currently enjoying our last 24 hours in Rome, but before heading out for an evening in the Trastevere, we thought we’d post our photos from our brief stop in the Cinque Terre.

    If you haven’t heard of the Cinque Terre before, it is truly lovely – five coastal towns, connected by hiking trails, full of cute shops and good food and views of the Mediterranean Sea.

    We stayed there during sort of an odd time, however. The official tourist season had ended, so a lot of places were closed, and there were only a few other visitors wandering around. Overall, however, it was well worth the trip.

    Near our hotel:

    Walking down the hill in the tiny town of Manarola:

    The hills:

    Jeffrey and boats:

    Really really high waves. The waves were so high, in fact, that the hiking paths between Manarola and Corniglia were closed.

    Anna and the Manarola hillside:

    A hillside cemetery, spotted in Manarola:

    The view from the top of Manarola:

    Hey look, we found ducks!

    View from our hotel room:

    Sunset, as seen from our hike between Monterosso and Vernazza, lightened up in Photoshop just a bit. P.S. Don’t do the Cinque Terre hikes at night.

    Der Voyage Vacations

    Miscellaneous Paris photos

    Here’s a set of random photos to round out our series of Paris photo posts.

    The train station in London, where we got new stamps on our passports and a one-way ride into Paris:

    The fountain on Place Saint-Michel:

    The Notre Dame de Paris, of course:

    We visited the archeological crypt underneath the Notre Dame, which was full of really freaking old pieces of ruins:

    More of the ruins:

    Hannah reading about the ruins:

    Jeffrey made me take this photo of a super weird advertisement outside of one of the Paris Metro stops:

    Arènes de Lutece, taken from underneath a big hallway with a roof (it was really rainy that day):

    Just a super creepy statue, found in the Jardins des Plantes:

    And simply Paris, on a rainy day:

    And finally, Alexis jumps in front of our rainy and blurry photo-op:

    Cinque Terre photos next! (we’re taking advantage of a steady internet connection while we still have it – who knows what Rome, Berlin and/or Amsterdam will have available)

    Der Voyage Vacations

    So many bones – the Catacombs of Paris

    On our second day in the great city, we visited the Catacombs of Paris. The quick and dirty way to describe it would be as an “underground cemetery,” but that doesn’t seem to do the place justice. There were stacks and stacks and stacks of human bones, stacked fastidiously and with immense care during the 17th and 18th centuries.

    As a museum experience, visiting the Catacombs was very unique – I don’t know when and if I’ll ever see piles upon piles of very old bones again in my life.


    An underground stone sculpture, of sorts:

    More bones:

    We walked down hallway after hallway (all underground) of bones stacked just like this:

    Graffiti next to ancient inscriptions:

    Alexis in front of some inscriptions:

    P.S. As we left, a guard searched our bags. Why? Because people actually STEAL BONES from the Catacombs. There were about half a dozen or so bones and a skull behind him on a table that he’d found in peoples’ bags. Seriously? WHO STEALS HUMAN BONES FROM A MUSEUM?

    Der Voyage Vacations

    Versailles photos

    Our first full day in Paris revolved around a trip to the Palace of Versailles, where we saw both the Palace itself and the special exhibit by Takashi Murakami. We were joined by our friends Hannah and Alexis, who live in Paris.


    Jeffrey and Hannah in front of one of Murakami’s works:

    Old and new – an old work of art and regular piece at the Palace, and one of Murakami’s new pieces of art:

    More Murakami:

    The Palace and the garden:

    More of the gardens. It’s tough to tell in this photo, but the fountain in the foreground is super creepy – it’s a goddess getting mad and turning the people around her into frogs, and some of the statues actually depict the turning-into-frogs process:

    Alexis and Jeffrey in front of Murakami’s Oval Buddha:

    Jeffrey and Anna in front of the lake:

    Hannah and Alexis in front of the lake:

    Der Voyage Vacations

    Learning time

    Two things we have gathered from our time so far in Italy:

    1) When a sign says it will take two hours to walk from one town to the other, pay attention to that sign. Pay even closer attention if the path between those two towns is a hilly, rocky demi-path that will cause you pain and existential worry if you cannot see what’s in front of you. Pay the utmost attention if it the sun is setting, leaving you unable to see what’s in front of you.

    2) You might have just transferred from a train whose ticket was attached to the one for the train you’re currently on, but that is not enough for the onboard attendants. Forget to read the fine print on the back of your ticket that tells you to “validate” (and don’t be told what “validating” means) and you will be fined an outrageous amount in front of a crowd of smug, Italian onlookers.

    Der Voyage Vacations

    Jeffrey is angry to be in London.

    Enough said.

    (Not really, he was quite happy)