Berliner Dom and Schnitzel

After spending the majority of my day at Museumsinsel, the sun was still out and I had some energy left to keep sightseeing.  Next to Museumsinsel is this beautiful cathedral, the Berliner Dom.

IMG_2550 The exterior of this cathedral is absolutely breathtaking, especially since most of it was not damaged during WWII.  Though there was some fire damage that caused the roof to collapse.

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Walking into a cathedral this size is always either a huge disappointment or an eye-opening experience.  Let’s just say my eyes were wide open for a long time.

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I was lucky enough to walk in during a rehearsal for Bach’s Matthäuspassion that was to be performed in April.  The beautiful sounds of operatic singing and strings playing filled the dome.  I sat down for at least an hour enjoying this free concert of sorts.

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With only a little time left before the cathedral closed I knew I had to motivate and walk around.  One of the most impressive pieces in this cathedral was the pipe organ.

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Though I didn’t realise it when I bought the entrance ticket, I had the opportunity to climb up to the top of the cathedral and look upon Berlin.  So I climbed, and climbed and continue climbing until I reached a door and walked outside.  Had it not been cloudy, it would have been absolutely amazing.  But, beggars can’t be choosers, and I enjoyed the views the best I could.

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From there I found myself in the crypt.  This was one as I’d never seen before with large coffins lined up and crowns displayed to recognise royalty.

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Feeling absolutely famished I made my way over towards Hackerscher Markt to find a bite to eat.  The night before I played it safe with some Italian food but after this day, I wanted a beer and some traditional German food.

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I found myself at Restauration 1840.  There were people sitting and eating inside, which is always a good sign, so I made my way in and found a table for one.

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IMG_2597The servers were extremely helpful and I ordered a Warsteiner and Schnitzel Weiner Art.  Never having schnitzel before, I was a little skeptical.  You always hear about schnitzel but if you’re like me, ask yourself, “What the heck is a schnitzel?”  Basically, it’s tenderized meat, coated and fried.  Delicious, but extremely filling.  While I didn’t finish the whole thing, I only left a few bites.

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A fine end to a great day!

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A Saturday in Salisbury

Another day, another adventure.  Last Saturday, I ventured a bit north to Salisbury.  Officially a city in 1220, Salisbury has so much history to offer visitors.

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Two of my course mates, Shaddy and Bianca, and I set off early Saturday morning for the train station.  After a quick stop in Eastleigh to change trains, we headed through the countryside towards Salisbury.  With the more-than-average rain we’ve been having, the fields and forests contained lush, green life.

Unfortunately, with rain in the forecast for later that day, we knew we’d be lucky to just stay dry under the cold, gray clouds.   As we left the Salisbury train station, we found a few different rivers running through the city.  There are actually 5 rivers come together, or, the confluence (word of the day!) of 5 rivers.

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Where there’s a river, there’s a path, which is usually prettier than the main streets.  So we followed and, just like Winchester, the high waters rushed by us.

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With a few twists and turns, we came across the Salisbury Cathedral, the main reason for our visit.  Completed in 1258, the Salisbury Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in the UK and also an impressive example of early English architecture.

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From a distance, the grandness of the cathedral was overwhelming.  Taking a closer look, the amount of detail on the exterior was extraordinary with statues lining the walls.

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Walking in, we were blown away by the openness of the cathedral.  We explored the tombs of past bishops and other dignitaries as well as ancient devices such as a working clock dating back to 1386.   Another impressive item was the organ, stretching around the cathedral.

IMG_1846 IMG_1849 IMG_1853The longer we were in the cathedral, the more the sun started to break through the clouds outside.  To our advantage, we were able to experience the beauty of the stained glass windows from within.

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We noticed a sign that said the Queen of England visited Salisbury Cathedral during her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.  This was picture worthy, of course, because I didn’t know the next time I’d be at a place where the Queen had recently been!

IMG_1867Walking out of the cathedral was joyous as we were welcomed by blue skies and sunshine.  Though there were absolutely zero warmth from that big ball of fire in the sky, I’ll take sunshine over clouds any day!   The sunshine gave us a whole different perspective of the cathedral’s exterior, making it even more magnificent than when we first arrived.

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From the cathedral, we took a walk around the city.  Since it was Saturday, there was a large open market in the main square, which included produce, meats and cheese, freshly made donuts, clothes and shoes and everything else in-between.

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After a bite at a delicious Italian restaurant, we noticed the weather was taking a turn for the worst – dark clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped.  So, we headed back to the train station to make our way back to Southampton.

In 2010, I visited Salisbury on a tour to Stonehenge.  The only site we saw during this tour was the cathedral so it was nice to see a little more of the city.  Though small, Salisbury still had a unique charm to it.

Walking Through Winchester

My first semester of grad school has come to a close and I couldn’t be more relieved!  A full report on the semester will come soon but for now, let’s focus on Sunday’s adventure – a trip to Winchester, England.

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The former capital city of England, Winchester is only a quick 20 minutes train ride from Southampton.  With exams behind us, and a week of relaxing to look forward to, some of my friends and I decided to take advantage of the sunny day and head to this enchanting town. 

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Our first stop was to be The Great Hall to check out King Arthurs’ Round Table but unfortunately, it was closed.  And remains closed until the middle of February 2014.  If you’re reading this and plan to visit Winchester in the next few weeks, I highly recommend you reconsider. 

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Fortunately, this little setback didn’t keep us down for long.  We made our way down the main street on the search of some breakfast.  Coming into the  downtown area, I felt like I’d just walked into Diagon Alley!  For all you non-Harry Potter nerds out there, Diagon Alley is where the witches and wizards of Hogwarts go to shop for their books, owls and other necessary school supplies. 

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The houses were old and slanted with moss growing out of every nook and cranny.  Each house was different from the next, making it hard to decide on a favourite.

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Moving forward, we came across a statue of King Alfred the Great.  After a little research, I discovered he was the king from 849-899, defended his kingdom against the Viking and when he died, was the only English monarchto be accorded the epithet “the Great.”  In short, a pretty important person.

IMG_1599 Past King Alfred the Great is the River Itchen.  Due to the massive amounts of rain we’ve had, the river roared and took over part of the walking path.  Nevertheless, we walked on, enchanted by the sounds of the river and marveling at the houses that lined it. 

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As we made our way towards the Winchester Cathedral, we walked under an ancient wall and came across the cutest little bookstore.  Though it being closed on Sundays, passer-byers could still leave money for any of the books outside it.

IMG_1629 At last, we came upon the main attraction – the Winchester Cathedral.  Built in 1079, it is one the largest cathedrals in England.  As we walked in, we were greeted by the angelic voices from the Sunday choir as mass came to an end.

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Walking through the cathedral, we came across burial sites for English Bishops as well as the final resting place of Jane Austen. 

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Walking up to the alter was an experience in itself.  The wall behind the alter consisted of stone carvings of Jesus and other biblical icons.  The details throughout the cathedral were extraordinary and quite impressive.    

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Leaving the Cathedral, we walked back to the main street where people had emerged from their homes to enjoy this sunny Sunday – a rare occasion in England during January!  While I was a bit disappointed about The Great Hall being closed, it just means I’ll have to take another quick train ride to Winchester sometime soon.