Posts Tagged With: journey

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies – A Review

Last Thursday, The Hobbit: Battle of the five armies premiered in the UK – and I went to the midnight screening!
Hobbit Poster
If you have not yet had the chance to watch this movie, go do it now – for this review will contain spoilers (you can read them if you hover over the underlined words).
With this movie, a very long journey comes to an end. Not just the three-year journey of the Hobbit (for me it was three years, at least, from when I first heard they would bring it to the screen to this day), but also the 15-year long journey to Middle-earth on which Peter Jackson and his team embarked when they first started filming the Lord of the Rings in 1999. As far as we know today, there will be no further Tolkien movies.
So, I walked into the cinema with a mixture of anticipation, excitement, but also sadness – similar to the very last Harry Potter movie a few years ago. I have to say, the Hobbit did not disappoint. Lots and lots of action sequences that were absolutely breath-taking – Smaug, the elves, the dwarves. I watched it in 3D, which made it even better! In some movies the 3D effects seem forced and unnatural, but in this one, it all morphed together perfectly. Maybe it is because of the different filming technique?
However, there are also a lot of quiet moments. Moments of friendship, of sadness, of despair and decision making. For me, it was beautiful to watch how Bilbo transformed from the frightened and sort of clueless hobbit to a fiercely loyal defender of his friends, taking matters into his own hands . I also enjoyed Legolas’ development, understanding his motivation for breaking with his father. I always wondered in the Lord of the Rings, why he was on his own. Not it has become a lot more clear.
As with all the previous movies, this one also has some comedy aspects – some more subtle than others. Martin Freeman as Bilbo portrays most of these moments, e.g. facing Thranduil, but the character of Alfrid (counsellor of the Master of Laketown) also adds to the comical relief in the otherwise rather dark movie.
It is always a difficult task to tie in new movies with old movies, when the old movies are the new ones, story wise. One of the most prominent other franchise I can think of is Star Wars – and unfortunately, I know many fans who were not happy with the binding element, Episode III (actually, me included). Because if this, I was somehow cautious about how the last Hobbit would tie in with the Lord of the Rings, but I needn’t have worried. The love for detail and the filming team’s vast knowledge about the stories resulted in a lovely solution (in my opinion). There were hints about Lord of the Rings throughout the trilogy, e.g. Gimli as a drawing in Gloins amulet, and the very beginning where Frodo appears), and in the last movie, the hints were slightly more pronounced.. I especially loved one of the last scenes, where they took footage from LotR to link it with the Hobbit. I admit, I was in tears.
There was one thing I was rather confused about though, but some research cleared it all up.
In summary, this movie is a beautiful piece of art with lots of little details that I cannot wait to see when I rewatch it time and time again in the future. You can really feel the attention and love the team put into this. And the farewell song in the credits? Show me one fan that will not have some moisture in their eyes when listening to Billy Boyd (Pippin) saying goodbye to middle-earth.
One more thing that makes the new trilogy so fantastic: I am currently rewatching Lord of the Rings for a university assignment and while I was a bit bored the last time I watched the movies (because I had seen them so many times), this time I can actually see some little details and snippets that didn’t make sense before or I simply didn’t notice. So by knowing the Hobbit trilogy, it makes LotR worth watching again and I see it with different eyes.
I believe I have rambled on long enough. While I am sad that there will be no new movies, the fact that the old ones are now even more connected makes it all worth it. So all of you who are reading this, take some time off to travel to middle-earth. I shall do the same by watching the Two Towers while on the plane towards home for Christmas.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us” – Gandalf

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So 2014 already started, happy belated New Year!

… and happy first anniversary to this blog! Can you believe it’s been a whole year since I started writing about my experience? Time has moved so fast. The past year has been full of amazing new people and new places. I learned so much, both academically and about myself. I will use all this knowledge in the future to be a better person (or just to have a better life, selfish as I am…)

So to all of my readers, thank you for journeying with me, no matter how brief your walk with me and my blog was. I appreciate every view and every comment. 🙂

As a small treat, here’s the link to my newest music video! (It opens in a new window, so go ahead and click…) We recorded this song over Christmas.

This week, I also started my internship in an internationally renowned Consulting Company here in Germany. Not as a consultant though, but as part of the Recruiting team. It’s so much fun! It also takes up almost all of my time, so I won’t be writing much for the next two months.

Keep smiling and enjoy your life. Until the next post!

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The Inbetween

Hello dear readers, I am almost off to Barcelona.

I spent a lovely week at home in Germany, meeting old friends, spending time with my family. I went with Kiki to a television show recording in Cologne, I spontaneously went to the birthday party of a friend from school that I hadn’t seen in months and I had all my favourite meals before going off again (Spargel, Salat Capricciosa and Gyros überacken!)

On Sunday, there was a dancing event at the Düsseldorf Airport and Kiki and I had a great time learning a few steps and meeting the semi-famous dancer from Let’s dance, a German television show. It was so exciting!

Of course, I also did some shopping with my mum and now I have way too many things that I want to take with me. However, the suitcase is weighing exactly as much as allowed. Go me! I think I am well prepared. I have a hat, sun protection, tons of shirts, flip-flops and a pink bikini – so I can relax on the beach when I’m not working. My mind still cannot understand that it will be warm – if not extremely hot – where I’m going, so I still fear that I don’t have enough warm clothes. I hope that I’ll be cured from that thinking very soon.

One evening my parents and I stumbled upon an episode of Downton Abbey in German tele, and while the synchronisation was hideous, I was somehow interested in the show and started watching it in english. It’s quite a lovely series, partly surprising, partly predictable. I guess I’ll keep watching.

Well, I just wanted to give a short report on what I was doing, now I have about an hour left before we’ll leave for the airport. See you in Spain!

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It has come, at last. My time in London is over. Today is the last day, tomorrow by this time I will be back in Germany. It is really sad, but then again it has been five amazing months! What else could I ask for?

The suitcase is already packed – even though there are still things in my room that are supposed to go in there. I have no clue how to fit everything in, but isn’t it always like that? There are so many things that you collect over time and you never notice them until it’s time to part. I am so glad that my parents were here last weekend and took some of my stuff with them, otherwise I would be in a tight spot.

Today is a rainy day, it just like London to say goodbye with such an average day. Some people came and said their farewell, but there are some I’ll be visiting this evening for the last time (at least, for now). I am also watching some last DVDs, for as long as I have access to them: I watched Skyfall and Casino Royale, Inglorious Basterds and Captain America. The kind of movie I wouldn’t normally watch on my own. I had baked beans on toast with eggs yesterday for dinner, something I’ve come to like a lot. I also watched Germany’s Next Topmodel, which is of course rather lame of me. But oh well.

I went to Brent Cross, a lovely shopping center not too far from here and did some small shopping. I have never gone on a shopping spree, so this time was no different. I spent less than 15 pounds on three shirts, that’s not too bad, eh? After that, I paid a last visit to the Poundland, getting some last random things. A book called Combat to Catwalk, a bracelet and some chocolate. So now I’m well prepared to go home.

I hope all you readers have enjoyed my blog for the past months and that you will continue following my life in Barcelona. There will be some changes around here, obviously. This blog needs a new design! Thank you for staying with me, and next time I’ll be writing from Barcelona! Cheers!

Mind the Gap, please!

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Amsterdam Adventure IV

Geez, I really want to get over with this. So let’s do this!

We are on Sunday in Amsterdam, are we not? That was the highlight of the trip. We were going to see the tulips! Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of flowers, and I cannot tell them apart very well. It’s either “Oh, red!” or “Oh, yellow!” or something like that. I know roses and tulips and sunflowers. But yes, even I was excited to see the tulips because I appreciate their beauty. And Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day, perfect for this adventure.

We got up early enough to grab some breakfast stuff at the supermarket to eat on the Coach. We had muffins and some fruit, yummy. We were on the Coach for about an hour and the guide told us a bit about the flowers, Amsterdam and the surroundings. Soon, we got to the first fields, but not all of them were in bloom yet. It was still lovely to see the colourful stripes in the fields. The Keukenhof is quite famous for its flower gardens and we were looking forward to it. Not everything was in bloom here, either. But they had put together some pots of tulips along the ways where there wasn’t much else, so it was still nice to look at. Some of the gardens were blooming, though and we spent hours taking pictures of flower arrangements. They also have a windmill in the park and we went inside. I don’t feel very comfortable with heights, and the other two felt similar, so we only took a quick look around and headed out again.

There was an area for people to sit and have picnics and there was a group of people with Bernese Mountain Dogs. Almost a dozen, I’d say – I almost cried when I saw them. Apparently, it was a kind of convention of Bernese Mountain Dog lovers. It started to drizzle slightly and we went into a greenhouse to spend some time there.  I was completely overwhelmed by the humungous number of flowers in that greenhouse. I tried to take a picture of almost everyone, but my camera battery gave out not even halfway through so I had to make do with my phone. It was a good alternative, so I was still happy with it.

It had stopped raining after we came out of that greenhouse and we continued our exploring outside. I can’t describe all that we saw, so I’ll rather upload pictures later. (I know I promised that quite often already). Of course, we also had a look at the souvenir shops and I was very tempted to buy some cheese. I didn’t, in the end, but it was a hard choice. Instead, we had ice cream. There was this shop where you could choose your own toppings and I had chocolate, strawberries and kiwis. It was so yummy!

By four in the afternoon, we were to return to the Coach and head back to Amsterdam. I could have spent more time at the Keukenhof, but oh well. Back in Amsterdam we hunted around for some souvenirs and when it was time for dinner, we went to a posh restaurant. Unfortunately it was a bit too posh for us. We had wanted to have some Dutch food before we left but this restaurant was so expensive, we could only afford the starters. They were okay but not filling and we all more or less picked at the food. What a bummer. We also felt a bit out of place because we didn’t dress up for this – oh, well. After this rather weird experience we opted for a second dinner from the supermarket back at the hotel. I finally got my cheese and also cookies and some fruit. We watched another movie (was it the Junglebook this time?) and enjoyed our last evening in Amsterdam. We were pretty tired after all these flower sightings that day, after all.

The next morning we packed and headed out to the Central Station to get to the airport. It was still early and we had a lot of time, so we had breakfast first. Hannah’s flight was later than ours, but she came with us to the airport. We had slight problems getting train tickets because the machines didn’t take cash, so we bought them at the counter – for 50 cent more than at the machine. Geez. At the airport, we killed some time with shopping around, going through passport control and lazing around. When it was time for Colette and me to go to the Gate, we parted with Hannah who unfortunately had to stay four more hours. Poor her! I don’t remember if I beeped at the security control, but it might just be so. We got on the plane, but we didn’t sit close to each other. Back in London we parted ways at the passport control, where I took a lot longer than her because there were so many European people. When I finally got through I ventured to find a place to buy bus tickets. Unfortunately, there was no way to buy easybus tickets; you apparently can only buy them on the internet. The National Express guy told the woman in front of me that it would be better to get the train, because the bus would take two hours and the next would leave in 50 minutes. I so wanted to get home that I took that advice and looked for the trains. I met Colette again on the shuttle to the train station, but then we parted ways for good. I got my ticket, which cost me almost 20 pounds and waited for the train – which was delayed, of course. But I actually got home eventually.

All in all, it was a lovely trip and I am very glad I went, especially with the two girls. We made a good team and had a great time in Amsterdam. And I can’t believe I finally finished this epic tale!

I know I’m almost three weeks behind by now. I’ll attempt to catch up to today soon. Bear with me – and thank you for reading my blog!

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Amsterdam Adventure Part I

Here we go! The long anticipated entry about my trip to Amsterdam!

It was another journey that started in the dead of the night with my alarm going off at 2:45. God, I wanted to keep sleeping! But I also wanted to go to Amsterdam, so I dragged myself out of bed and on the road to the night bus station. It was so early that no regular bus was running, let alone the tube. I had purchased tickets for the easybus Gatwick Transfer from West Brompton and since I have never been there before, I wanted to have some puffer time. I changed at Baker Street and arrived safely and on time at the pick-up point. It was not really a bus I was getting in, rather one of those big taxis where about a dozen people fit into, which was a lot more comfortable. I slept on the way to the airport, it was about an hour and a half.

So far, I have always travel to or from London Stansted, so this was the first time at Gatwick. It is a lot bigger, so I had to walk for a while to get to the security check. I stopped at a Boots shop to purchase ear plugs – a wise decision, as you will see later. I had loads of time anyway since I had calculated for a lot of buffer time (after the stress with Galway, I really didn’t want to take any risks), so I read my book and waited for my friend Colette to arrive. She came just in time, apparently she had taken the first tube and there had been delays already – seriously, at that hour? Geez, what’s up with this city? But she made it and we both boarded the plane. Since we hadn’t purchased the tickets together, I had a seat in the front and she in the back. Oh well, it was only about one hour anyway. I actually had a whole row for myself, but since I slept soundly through the whole flight (I didn’t even noticed we had started), it didn’t really matter.

When we landed, the weather in Amsterdam was much the same as in London – grey and rainy. We felt at home immediately! (Just joking.) Schiphol Airport is also very big and confusing and we walked about a bit until we found a Starbucks to have breakfast. It was expensive, as always, but at least I got Hot chocolate and an egg and bacon sandwich to fill me up. It was eleven o’clock local time, and I hadn’t eaten anything since three in the morning, so it was about time. Colette and I then went to purchase train tickets to the city center. It was easy enough and soon after we were sitting in a train to Amsterdam Centraal. It takes about 15 minutes to get there, how lovely is that?

At the station we looked for lockers, since my friend didn’t want to carry her bag around the whole day. Quite understandable, for that thing was heavy and you couldn’t wheel it. We found the lockers at the very end of the station and safely locked the stuff away. I kept my little suitcase, and we then made our way out into the city.

Since we had no idea where we were going, we just kept strolling along the main road, looking at the little shops and restaurants and trying to get a first feeling for the city. It was not really raining, so we enjoyed walking. Our friend, Hannah, would arrive later in the afternoon and we had some hours to kill before that, so we went into almost every store along the way. I bought a shirt at New Yorkers and Colette some earrings at Bijou Brigitte and we spent quite a while in Waterstones looking at the books and exchanging novel recommendations. Colette has a book blog, too, you might want to check it out: Colette’s blog. After about two hours of walking around, we were getting tired and settled down in a small cafe called Le Pain Quotidien. They had lovely homemade ice tea which we enjoyed very much. We spent about an hour in there and with about another one to go, we headed out again to grab some chips. On our way into the city we had tried some chips with weed sauce – yes, you read correctly, weed sauce! It is apparently mayonnaise with weed in it – it tasted disgusting. But the chips were very good and we decided to give it a try with normal mayonnaise sauce. The place is called Manneken pis, I recommend you trying a portion of chips there if you ever get to Amsterdam.

We were eating our lunch when I got a text from Hannah saying she had arrived, so we made our way back to the station to meet her. Finally, our little adventurous group was complete! After collecting Colette’s bag, we decided to find our hotel and to settle in. Since we had no idea where to go, we asked for help and were directed to tram line number 1. We purchased our tickets and enjoyed our first ride on the Amsterdam tram. We got of at some place that sounded remotely like Leicester Square and I took the lead to find the hotel – since I had the address and all. It took us quite a while, not because we were lost but because that station was most certainly not the closest one to the hotel and we were all tired and didn’t want to carry our stuff around much longer. Luckily we finally found the place (It’s called Hotel Vivaldi). It is a two star hotel, more like a hostel, but it suited our needs and was not too expensive. We checked in and got the room card. The funny thing is that the hotel is divided into two buildings – the lobby and reception is in one house and some of the rooms are in another, about 100m down the street. That’s where our room was, too. But I didn’t mind and since I had read some reviews beforehand, I knew what to expect.

The room was rather small, just enough for the bunk bed and single bed and some room to turn. We had our own bathroom, which was nice, but there was no window and not even a ventilation system, which would be annoying later. For now, we were happy with our accommodation and settled in. We didn’t get WiFi in our room for now, so after we had a short break we went over to the lobby to get access and tell everybody via mail, Whatsapp or Facebook that we had arrived safely. It was about 5:30 when we decided to look for a place to eat and we headed out. There was a place close to the hotel that seemed to offer breakfast and pancakes and all and we decided to try that out in the morning – it looked a lot more appetizing than the breakfast room at the hotel, even though that would only cost 3€. For dinner, we were looking for something cheap but good and that took quite a while. There were some restaurants and diners, but they were either too expensive or looked dubious. After walking for almost half an hour we finally settled for a small Italian restaurant that had reasonable prices. The food was okay, not the very best but it tasted good and filled us up. It was still early when we finished and we kept walking around a bit more, looking around the small flower market close-by. We then returned to our place and once again found ourselves in the lobby for internet access. We had decided we wanted to watch a movie in the evening – since Colette had brought her laptop – so we rented Tarzan on iTunes. There’s nothing like a good old Disney movie at the end of a long day! The three of us got ready for bed and emerged ourselves in the jungle with the gorillas. We agreed to set the alarm for ten the next day and then snuggled into bed. I plugged in my earplugs, because our toilet just wouldn’t shut up and there were other people in the building making some noise, and I slept happily until the next morning.

Well, this is it so far, I won’t overwhelm you and write about one day at a time. I hope you enjoyed it so far, I will be back after a short break!

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