Tag Archives: July 2017

Seeing the Graffiti at Teufelsberg in Berlin, Germany

Berlin is just so cool. You know how a hipster is someone who is trying to be cool, but trying to make it seem like they don’t care how cool they are? I feel like Berlin is the original hip. Like, Berliners are what hipsters are fashioned from and aspire to. The city just keeps getting cooler and cooler the more things I discover. Here’s one of those cool things:

In the middle of Grünewald Forest, is a man-made hill called Teufelsberg, created from rubble and debris moved from Berlin after World War II. The Americans used the Radomes -weatherproof enclosures that protects a radar antenna –  atop the hill as listening stations during the Cold War. When the Berlin wall fell, the equipment was removed, but the Radomes and buildings remained. It’s now what I believe is a squatter’s paradise, and is open to the public! Michael and I decided that today we would do what we do best: hike to the top of something and have a picnic.

After a quick grocery shop for the perfect picnic (sandwich ingredients, cherries, and a litre of wine) we took a train then a bus to the edge of Grunewald Forest, and began the 30 minute (according to Google Maps) walk to the top of the hill.

We were rudely greeted by swarms of mosquitoes. Swarms I tell you. Swarms!! Oh my gosh, they were everywhere. A cloud of mosquitoes followed us as we walked, so we ran. We ran through those woods as fast as we could, constantly swatting ourselves and each other when a mosquito would land. I laughed, I cried, I itched, I swatted, and I ran. The mosquitos had the time of their lives.

We ran all the way up the hill, passing other swatters like us running the other way. We finally arrived to an opening in a chain link fence. Still swatting at the ravenous mosquitoes, we met some men at the Teufelsberg “ticket booth.” We gave them our €8 each and signed in to the guest book. We continued to climb up the hill and the mosquitoes thinned. Thank goodness.

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Ok, so this place is so cool. We walked towards the buildings and found graffiti and spray paint tags everywhere. We climbed the stairs up and up and up into the towers. The art surrounding us was beautiful. This is absolutely the kind of thing I’ll pay €8 to see. We reached the roof of the building, where we could see everything from Berlin city centre and the TV tower, to the rolling hills covered in wind turbines, majestically spinning on the horizon. Wow, it was quite the view.

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We climbed up and up and up again, to the top of the tallest Radome. Here, we discovered more art, and some of the craziest echoes I’ve ever heard. If we stood next to the walls of the sphere and even just whispered, our own whispers came back to us three or four times from around the walls. We started whispering words like, “secrets,” and singing, in the creepiest tune we could create, “I’ll never tell”. Back down in the open air, we found a picnic table in the shade of one of the domes and enjoyed our perfect sandwiches and sipped our perfect wine.

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After our picnic, it was time to leave. We finished our litre of wine (I know, we are rock stars), and were just drunk enough to feel brave enough to run back through the swarms of mosquitoes. We wandered around the complex a little more to make sure we didn’t miss any art, and then walked towards the entrance. We waved goodbye to the men at the “ticket booth” and then began our run down. And run we did. All the way to the train.

How to get into Berghain in Berlin, Germany

There are a few things I would say Berlin is known for: the currywurst, a pork sausage served with curry ketchup; the wegbier, like a beer ‘to go’, directly translated to “away beer”; and of course, the extreme techno scene. I love sausages and I love beer, but I have never really given techno a chance. So, when I heard about Berghain, a techno club in Berlin, I desperately wanted to go and “do” techno right.

Berghain is an institution in the Berlin techno scene that opens its doors on Friday evening and doesn’t close until Monday morning. People say stepping into Berghain is like stepping into another world, and if you believe all the rumours, at Berghain, anything goes. There is no guest list, no bottle service, no VIP area. The other thing you should know about Berghain is that it’s said to be near impossible to get in! People recount evenings they stood in the line outside for 2 hours, just to be politely told that no, in fact, they would not get in. With one flick of the wrist, the doorman decides your fate, right means yes, left means no. There seem to be no rules, no dress code, no reasoning! So how do you get in?!

This is how we did it:

We woke up on Sunday morning and started our day with a lovely breakfast. I had a tomato, mozzarella, and pesto panini and a chai latte. The chai latte was so frothy and creamy, it was actually really good. We sat outside and watched as the clouds prepared to drop some rain. We took the S-bahn through the city, past the TV tower, and arrived at Ostbahnhof station.

We ended up walking behind some kids that looked like they might be going to Berghain too. They were all dressed in black, and one of them had his phone in his hand, playing techno music. “To get in the mood,” I thought to myself. They looked pretty cool, like they knew and understood the techno scene.

We turned a corner on the path and could hear the booming bass from the club. I began shaking in my boots. Oh man, I just knew we weren’t going to get in. I just don’t think I am cool enough for this place! Everyone talks about how exclusive this place is, and here I am, little Where the F is Beth going to try to get in? Ha!

The cool looking kids were in front of us in line. The doorman knew as soon as he looked at people whether or not they were Berghain material, so the line moved quite quickly. Out of the four or so groups of people I saw at the door, two people got in, and their friends were told to leave. Phew! I was really shaking now. The cool looking kids got to the front of the line. The doorman looked at all four of them and shook his head no, wrist flick to the left. Then, one of the kids opened his wallet and offered the man a bribe. It, of course, didn’t work. We stepped up. The doorman looked straight into my soul through his blacked out sunglasses.

And then we got in.


For more things to do in Germany, read stories of other adventures here!

How to get a Youth Mobility Visa while in Germany

I began traveling around Europe with big dreams and plans of where to go and how long I wanted to stay. Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal… I had plans to stay for at least a year and just travel around to my hearts content! I would be hopping countries every 30 days or so, so I didn’t even think it was a possibility I would need a visa. Then someone mentioned the Schengen area.

The what?!

The Schengen Area is made up of the following 26 countries:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

The Schengen countries have a border-free agreement that allows the residents to move and work freely throughout the entire area. Great, right? Except for citizens who are not from the Schengen. We are allowed entry into the Area for 90 days within any 180-day period. The days don’t need to be consecutive, the clock begins the day you arrive and doesn’t reset until day 181.

For example, if I enter the Schengen for 30 days in May, then come back for 30 days in July, it is 60 days in 180 days.

If you’re like me and have big dreams of plans of where to go and how long you want to stay, how do you stay in Europe longer???

1) You can sort your trip out to move in and out of the Schengen while you are traveling.
You could begin your trip in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, for 90 days, and then move over to the Balkans and take another 90 days to see Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and up through Serbia. Then back into the Schengen for 90 days, then out (maybe to Morocco?), etc. It is totally possible, it just requires a bit of planning and counting days on a calendar.

2) You can get a visa for a country in the Schengen. If you take a language course in a country, for example Spain, you can apply for a student visa in that country, and with that visa, you can travel freely within the Schengen. Many countries have agreements between them to allow citizens to apply for working holiday visas. A working holiday visa allows visitors to live and work in the country, and again, travel freely within the Schengen. Every country has a different agreement, the best place to look is on your country’s government website.

I am Canadian, I am under the age of 35, and I decided to apply for a Youth Mobility Visa in Germany. This would allow me to work in Germany, if I want to, and to travel freely in all the Schengen countries.

This blog post is about how I registered, got my residence permit, and received my Youth Mobility Visa in Germany.

What the Canadian government website tells you is that you have to apply for your Youth Mobility Visa while in Canada, BEFORE you arrive in Germany. This is not the case anymore. You CAN apply for this visa while in Germany. I repeat, you CAN apply for the Youth Mobility Visa while already in Germany. Apparently some of the aliens authorities are not familiar with the process, as it is new, but the one in Berlin knows about it.

This is how you can get your visa in Berlin, Germany:

Step 1)
You must register at a Bürgeramt
You can make an appointment three weeks in advance, at this website (Make an appointment here). You can also walk in, take a number, and wait. (Some of the Bürgeramts are by appointment only, so make sure if you are going to test your luck with a number, you don’t go to these ones. Check out the list here).
To register, you can bring a rental agreement and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord
Some hotels and hostels will allow you to register as a resident there.
This step is mostly so they see you aren’t going to sleep on a park bench.

Once you have the certificate of registration, make a photocopy of it!

If you plan to drive in Germany, you will need to get a German driver’s license at the Bürgeramt also. But you will need a second appointment for that. (Read a bit about driving in Germany, and around Europe in general, here).


Step 2)
Go to the Ausländerbehörde a few hours before it opens (the hours are Monday and Tuesday at 7am, and Thursday at 10am). Straight up, we arrived on Monday morning at 6am, and there were already 60 people ahead of us in the queue. We took our number and waited about an hour and a half until we were seen.

What you need to bring with you:

  1. A valid passport
  2. 1 current biometric photo
    35mm x 45mm, frontal shot with neutral facial expression and closed mouth, looking straight into the camera, light background
    You can have this taken at a photography studio OR go to one of the PassPhoto booths in any main train station in Germany and take them there.
  3. Foreign travellers’ health insurance that is valid for one year
  4. Proof of funds in the amount of at least 2000 Euros
    you can print off a bank statement
  5. The Application for Issuance of a Residence Permit (The form in English, German, French, and Italian: download it here)
  6. The photocopy of the certificate of registration from the Bürgeramt

This is how I did it! It took just one day. They granted my visa in the moment. It was a bit of paperwork and running around to different offices, but now, I can stay in the Schengen for the entire year, move freely around, and even work in Germany if I so choose!


And once you’re in Germany, here are some things to do!


If you have any questions or comments about the process, please send me a message or comment below! Do you have a different experience? Or tips for visas in another country? Let me know!

Canada Day in London, England

Today was the best day ever and here’s why:

I woke up in London, England on July 1st, Canada Day (the day upon which multiple British colonies united and became Canada). I bounded out of bed, made myself ready for the day, and hit the road. We hopped on a double decker bus, sat at the front on the second floor, and flew downtown. Soon we were off the bus and on the hunt for breakfast! We sat down on the patio of a restaurant and ordered full English breakfasts: beans, toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, and hash browns. Boy, oh boy! I do love a breakfast like this.

We walked to the Prince of Wales Theatre where the ticket lottery for Book of Mormon would happen at 12:30pm. Every day, two hours before the show, a lottery is held for tickets to the Book of Mormon. You basically put your name in a pot and if you are the lucky name called, you can win one or two tickets for £20 each (way cheaper than the regular £90). They began the lottery and everyone was so excited. As each name was called, the crowd clapped and cheered, but we all wished it was us. Then my name was called! What?! I won!


We had some time to kill before the show, so we decided to walk to Trafalgar Square where a huge Canada Day celebration was taking place. This isn’t just any Canada Day. Today, Canada turned 150 years old! Or should I say, 150 years young. We were greeted with Canada flags and temporary tattoos. We lined up to buy a Sleeman’s Honey Brown and laughed at the HUGE line up for Tim Horton’s — just like home. There was live music, street hockey, and a photo booth. It was such a fun celebration. The sun came out and we enjoyed our beers in the warmth. Then the MC on stage invited us to sing O Canada. We did, and of course, there were tears. I just can’t help it! Happy birthday, Canada.


We walked back to the theatre and took our seats. We sat in the front row. It was a bit close, but a totally unobstructed view. Oh man, Book of Mormon is damn funny. The perfect blend of West End musical positivity, and super offensive jokes. Oh, what a perfect London afternoon!

After the show, we were peckish. We decided to head to the Tesco’s for their £3 meal deal, and take our food to a park to have a picnic. We walked in and were greeted by two men standing in front of a table offering free samples of vodka lemonade to promote Smirnoff’s limited edition Pride bottle. It tastes the same as regular vodka, but it’s more accepting. We thanked them for the drinks and went on shopping. We bought a salad, a sandwich, two drinks, a bag of chips, and a bag of Malteser’s for £6! We also bought some pre-mixed Gin and Tonics to complement our picnic. We were at the check out, and at the front of the store, the London Gay Men’s Chorus broke out into song! We got two more vodka lemonades from the Smirnoff guys and enjoyed a few songs. There we were, in a Tesco’s, being serenaded by a lovely group of men, drinking free booze. What a day!

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We wandered to St James’s Park and ate our picnic. I was so cozy, laying in the sun, full of £3 meal deal and gin. How could I possibly be happier? After a cheeky nap, we walked to Buckingham Palace, then around to Big Ben, across Westminster Bridge, and past the London Eye. It’s all so beautiful. We made our way along the Thames. The sun slowly went down and the fairy lights in the trees lit our path.

Best. Day. Ever.