Monday, July 29, 2013

European Research Exchange - So Freaking Hot

The last few days were so freaking hot. Like so freaking hot. Today is much better since it rained and now it's cooler. But over the weekend it was so freaking hot. Like feels like 40 degrees hot. It was so painful. As a result I spent most of my time inside, but I went out for a bit.

I met a guy from Denmark here back in May, and he left Berlin on Friday, so we went to celebrate on Wednesday. We met at Meltdown and so we naturally went back there. It was Dota night though, so I was just kinda watching Dota. Didn't really know what was going on.

Also Mousesports totally came to Meltdown on Friday after their match. My friend missed it. But so did I since I don't care about Dota >_> (Wikipedia)

I went shopping on Saturday since it was so freaking hot I needed some shorts. So I went out and got shorts. They're comfy. Also apparently the mall I went to had air conditioning. Like I wasn't sure, but when I went inside, I felt cooler.

And then I walked around a bit more, and I was like. Yea, there's totally a bit of air conditioning going on. And it was fantastic. As a result I was in that mall for like half the afternoon. But seriously though. It was so freaking hot. I got a free popsicle at work the other day though, and that was awesome.

I don't know anyone that does that hand gesture.

I spent most of my Sunday indoors, but at night I went out with a friend to do some touristy things. I finally went to the TV Tower, or the Fernsehturm. It's like the CN Towery looking thing in Berlin, but it's like half as tall, so it isn't as exciting. It wasn't that exciting. It had a cool view, and made me realize a few things about the city, but it was ok.

Afterwards we went to the Brandenburg Gate. We've both been there before, but not during the night. It's supposed to be a lot nicer at night, so we went and it was actually nicer.

It was also less hot at this point.

I was planning on going at night eventually anyways, so it was good. After that we wandered around the area a bit and checked out a few more touristy areas. Initially we were planning on going to the Reichstag building as well, but apparently it requires an appointment or something, and it was full for the week.

But we still went, just didn't go inside. The building looked pretty cool. Really big and imposing. However they had this like, show? Or something right next to the Reichstag building about the Berlin Wall. That was pretty cool.

So colourful.

I'm not sure if it's like, a thing or not. But there were a bunch of people there watching the show. But it also seemed very casual. I wouldn't be surprised if it was like a nightly thing, but I have no idea.

But yea, overall very hot week. It was nice to kinda just walk around the touristy areas again at night. Things are different at night. But between going up the TV Tower and visiting the Reichstag building (despite not going inside), I think I covered all the touristy places I want to go in Berlin.

The view from the tower was ok btw. It's pretty expensive to just go up there to look at things.

Anyways, next week is the Berlin Beer Festival. I have a few friends from UOIT coming to Berlin during that time, so it should be pretty fun.

Monday, July 22, 2013

European Research Exchange - Just Chilling

Taking a break from some side trips, this week was pretty chills. The week itself was mostly pretty standard, with just all of the waking up, going to work, working, leaving work, sleeping, etc. Nothing too terribly exciting there.

But weekends are a different story for sure. I've always enjoyed weekends, but I wasn't like an OMG IT'S FRIDAYYYY kinda guy. However since I've settled down a bit in Berlin, I've been enjoying my weekends a lot more haha. Look forward to them every week.

Is.. Is this what it feels like?

So on Friday I went to Meltdown as usual. I didn't go last week since I went to Poland, and man, I missed it haha. Such a great place to just chill with friends. I played in the tournament like usual, and I did really well this time around.

There was a loser's bracket this week, but I never played in it. I won my first game against a Masters player and he like literally rage quitted and left the bar. Then I crushed this Silver player, beat another Masters player, and then faced a Diamond player in the winner's finals which I won before finally losing to a third Masters player in the actual finals.

As an aside they have this new soda. It's pretty much apple soda with caffeine.

So I ended up second in the tournament. Played really bad that game, but I played well in the matches leading up to it, so it was ok haha. However if there was no loser's bracket I would've won the entire thing, so bleh.

Saturday morning I woke up earlier and went to one of the local card shops in Berlin to play some Magic. They were having a Grand Prix Trial event for Prague, and despite me not going to that I wanted to play some Magic with the new cards. So I went, got some bad cards and placed horribly. But I got one money card and managed to trade it for some solid stuff though, so overall good event.

Camera orientatioooooooooooon.

Anyways so moving on to Saturday night one of my neighbours invited me to a barbeque dinner. Naturally I went, and man, barbeque pretty good. Really tasty food is tasty. Not to be a giant freeloader, I bought a case of beer too. And man. 10 liters of beer is freaking heavy. My arms are still sore and it's Monday.

It just so happened that some people I know from McGill were having like, an end of the semester meet up kinda thing. So I went and met up with them after I finished eating and we just literally just sat in a park and chilled. Really cool.

Fun fact, one of my neighbours saw me struggling to carry this back to the flat.

And finally yesterday I just stayed at home for the most part, but after dinner I went out and watched Pacific Rim with some other friends. Pretty awesome movie. Really cliche and somewhat cringey script, but the action and effects were pretty good.

But yea, so ends a pretty fun weekend. Heres hoping the next one will be just as awesome haha.

Monday, July 15, 2013

European Research Exchange - Wroclaw

So even before I came to Berlin I was planning a trip to Wroclaw in Poland. The reason for this was because there was a Japanese band that I like that was doing a show there, so I just pretty much had to go since I had to go.

As a result, this last weekend was spent in Poland. I got back yesterday, and man, it was a good trip haha. Really tiring, but really fun. It all started on Friday when I got on a train to Wroclaw. It was a pretty uneventful trip.

Train rolling in at Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

My first impressions of Poland as we crossed into the border was that it seemed kinda old and rundown. Like the buildings near the various train stations we pulled into had like broken windows, peeling paint, and it just looked kinda slummy.

Wroclaw itself was nice though. Very historic feel and had a lot of old buildings. It felt a lot different than say, Berlin. There are a lot more older buildings and the city doesn't feel as modern. But it's still pretty cool with lots of things to see.

304 incredibly steep steps to get up here man.

After checking into the hotel, I had some time to kill so I decided to walk around the city center before dinner and the concert. I went to the Rynek, or the market square, and just checked out some of the cool buildings they had there as well as climb a church tower to take the above picture.

After dinner was the concert, and man, I was so hyped for the concert leading up to it, and it didn't disappoint haha. It was such a sick concert. It was pretty much like two and a bit hours of awesome music and great atmosphere.

I'm still recovering from the concert, and it's been a few days already >_>

I wanted to buy a tour t-shirt, but they didn't have any male sizes left. I was seriously considering buying the female version because I can totally fit into it. But afterwards I decided against it. It would be too weird. Next time, Deathgaze, next time.

The next day was my free day, so I spent my entire Saturday sightseeing and exploring the city. And man, I walked so much that day. So tiring. But I went and saw pretty much everything I wanted to see, so it was a pretty successful day.

I went to the top of the Wroclaw Cathedral too.

My first stop involved walking back through the Rynek to the Wroclaw Cathedral. It's a giant twin towered cathedral and it's pretty imposing. It's a really big building and the interior is also very nice.

Aside from the Wroclaw Cathedral, I also went and checked out the Centennial Hall, which is like a UNESCO World Heritage site built 100 years ago. It was kinda cool since it was actually built in May 1913, so it actually has been around for like 100 years.

See that thin spire thing near the middle of this pic? Yea I have no idea what it's for either.

I spent a decent amount of time at the hall since we could go inside for a mini-museum kinda thing and a show. So I did that and then headed back to the hotel before finding dinner. Oh, I also ate at the Hall and ordered perogies. So I totally had perogies in Poland, which was one of my goals.

I ended up wandering the city for a bit longer before dinner, and then decided to wait for the sun to set a bit before returning back to the hotel for the night.

Apparently there's a thing called the Blue Hour when the sky is blue.

Freaking mosquitos man. That's all I have to say about that.

Sunday was the day I had to go back to Berlin, so after I checked out of the Hotel I went to check out one last place, the Raclawice Panorama. That was kind of a pain though since I had to carry my stuff with me, but oh well.

Yea man, took a panorama picture of a panorama painting.

The panorama is this giant 360 degree painting of a battle for Polish independence. It was actually really lifelike and they displayed it in a really cool way. Afterwards I grabbed lunch and then heading back to the station to catch my train back to Berlin.

I had to transfer at Poznan, but for the most part the trip back was pretty smooth and uneventful. Overall I would say it was a good trip, learned a lot about Poland in general, saw a bunch of cool things and had a good time.

Dem pierogies.

This was definitely one of my highlights so far of my time in Europe. We'll see what's up next haha. I hear there's this awesome event in Cologne next month!

Monday, July 8, 2013

European Research Exchange - Dresden and Mountains

So this weekend was pretty fun. On Saturday one of my friends rented a car, so we went on a mini road trip to Dresden and the surrounding area, which is located to like the east side of central Germany. The trip started out kinda rough, but we quickly smoothed things out and went on our way.

We drove down to Saxon Switzerland, which is like a mountainous area near the border of the Czech Republic. There are some pretty sweet naturey areas in that region, and it was pretty nice. After doing some pathfinding in the mountain near Bad Schandau, we found this sick outlook.

We had to like, walk through some sketchy paths to get here since we missed the legit path.

Afterwards we wanted to look for this mountain bridge thing, but we had no idea where it was or what it was called. We didn't have a data plan, and our car GPS didn't work, so we were just like, we'll just drive and we'll find something eventually.

So we almost actually drove into the Czech Republic, but we turned around and took a different path instead. Eventually we found a little waterfall, so we stopped there and took some pictures.

Is it just me or does the water look glowy?

We couldn't figure out where that bridge thing was, and it was getting kinda late, so we figured we'd just drive to Dresden for dinner, but if we saw anything cool along the way we'd stop and explore.

Eventually we found something else that we wanted to see, a fortress on top of a mountain. We drove to the top and we found out the fortress actually was closed to the public at 6:00. It was 6:30 when we arrived, so we were kinda bummed out.

It's literally like, built into the mountain. Or built out of the mountain.

Since we were already there, we figured we'd walk around on the outside. Little did we know there was actually a tour going into the fortress, so we totally just joined them. So we went inside, and I was already thinking to myself, there's a lot of like, middle aged people here in suits.

But we didn't really think too much about it, we were in the fortress and it was pretty nice. The best part though, was when you got to see the view. It was awesome.

Nature is pretty good.

This was also around the time when we realized that we totally were not supposed to be there since they opened up some champagne and gave everyone a glass. Then we found out it was actually some company's trip, hence the guys in suits. So as three people in our early 20s, clearly we were out of place.

That's when we decided to like, casually leave when we could. Eventually we made it back to the entrance, but apparently the door was locked. So we were like damnit, we're locked into this fortress. We ended up finding an alternative exit though, so we made it out ok. But that entire experience felt very Assassin's Creedish with the whole historical fortress and what not.

Look at how sick this sun is. So sick.

Afterwards we finally decided to get to Dresden. So we got there and ate dinner before exploring. And man, Dresden is a beautiful city. They have water flowing through the city, so there's like bridges and stuff. In the background you have this giant, awesome historical buildings all lit up, and it just looks really nice.

There was also apparently some festival/event/concert going on, but I have no idea. I was more focused on the other stuff going on in the city. I'm a pretty big fan of lights and water.

See, that looks so cool.

We got back to Berlin pretty late, and I was pretty tired. But it was a pretty awesome day. Kinda glad I got to see other areas of Germany, especially another big city. Dresden is definitely a different city than Berlin. Pretty cool.

Pretty psyched for next week, heading to Poland for a concert on Friday and I'm so excited for it haha. Also looking forward to explore the city (Wroclaw) too of course.

Sooooo hyped. (B7Klan)

Oh travelling. You're so great.

Monday, July 1, 2013

European Research Exchange - The Computerspielemuseum

For the most part, the last week was pretty standard. However yesterday me and my friend went to the Computerspielemuseum, or the Videogame Museum. Because German combines all the words.

I had a few of my friends recommend me to go, since they went there previously when they were in Berlin. Being the videogame nerd I am, I had to go check it out as well. Especially since I'm missing that videogame exhibit at the Science Center. Man, I wanna go to that.

Ignore the guy sitting there.

The museum itself actually looked a lot bigger on the outside. It's actually pretty small and has two/three sections. The first section is the largest section, but relatively speaking its still pretty small. The second section is a room with some random concept art, and the third section is a small room with videogame themed merch.

Anyways so the main room is the more important room, so I'll talk about that. Going in you are greeted by a bunch of statues from various video games.

Actually now I'm wondering what was upstairs.

They had a few cool things. But pretty much the entire museum was just a quick exhibit on some history of videogames as well as how it has evolved as a medium. So it included things like playable demos of classic games, key milestones in gaming, and some developments including new tech and stuff.

They had some pretty interesting stuff actually, but again, it was pretty small.

You could also play a racing game by pedalling a bike.

The highlight of the museum, by far, was the Painstation. Essentially, it's a machine where you play against a friend in a game of Pong. However there's a twist. Instead of losing when you miss the ball, you lose when you move your left hand from the two metal buttons on the side.

The reason for that is because if you miss the ball, the ball might hit a "powerup" on the side of the screen. If it does, then one of three things happens. Either the area your hand is over heats up, an electric current gets sent through your hand, or a leather whip destroys your hand.

You know it's legit when you have to sign a contract to play the game haha.

And man, it's a pretty intense game haha. The burn one isn't too bad, but I'm sure it gets worse after a while. The shock one is pretty jarring, since your hand feels really weird and goes kinda numb and tingly. The whip one actually hurts haha.

The kicker is that they can all be active at the same time. I had the shock and whip on at the same time, and I had to focus so hard to keep my hand down haha.

It's been like a day and there's still a faint  mark haha.

But I beat my friend twice, and then played a random in a really intense game. And man, the game is designed to screw with you so hard. After playing it for a bit other power ups appear that will split the ball in two (might double trigger pain), or even like inverse the screen.

I ended up beating him though, so I'm currently 3-0 and undefeated. Fun game haha.

So innocent looking.

Aside from that this week was pretty ok.