A Day Out in Leipzig

Many people will tell you that Berlin is not Germany and they are correct in saying so. The capital has a completely different lifestyle and way of living than any other German city, perhaps largely due to its vast multiculturalism. So, after four years living here, I thought it was high time I discovered more of what ‘real Germany’ looks like.

Two weeks ago I travelled to Leipzig for the day, a former East German city conveniently located just 1 hour 15 minutes from Berlin by train. The main intention was to visit the zoo (post coming soon), but with a few hours to spare, a tour of the city was in order.

Leipzig is a compact city and easy to walk around quickly to get an impression of the city. I didn’t enter any of the fabulous museums they have there, but I did manage to get some nice snaps of the streets.

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One place I did take the time to enter was St. Thomas Church most famous as the place where Johann Sebastian Bach worked as a Kapellmeister, and as the current location of his remains.

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I couldn’t help but add a picture of these adorable dogs.

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I also travelled to Cologne last year for the Christmas markets. Check out my pictures here!

What I’ve Been Eating

I honestly feel like I spend 80% of my time thinking about food. I plan during the week where I would like to eat dinner at the weekend, ask what I will be having for dinner when I am only eating breakfast, and spend way too much time looking up menus and recipes online. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that some of my favourite blog posts are ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ and the like.

Although there is not much new that I can offer the world of food blogging, I thought I would incorporate some ‘what I ate’ posts into Joyful Antidotes. I will not stick to any particular day, and will instead compile some pictures over a week or so of the tasty things I have eaten. Besides being a pescetarian, I don’t make a claim on any other type of diet i.e. gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. Nor do I claim to be an overly healthy person. I just hope that you can appreciate these posts for what they are –  a bit of fun – and maybe get some meal inspiration like I do from so many others.

Homemade chips and curry with spinach and feta borek.

Homemade chips and curry with spinach and feta borek.

Homemade chips and curry sauce are my ultimate comfort food and are sure to cheer me up no matter the problem. I paired this truckload of starchy goodness with some spinach and feta borek. I didn’t make the borek this time, but you can see my recipe here.

Fried egg and cherry tomato.

Fried egg and cherry tomato.

Eggs are my go to breakfast, lunch or dinner in times when inspiration is waning. Here, I tried fried tomatoes for the first time. Not so bad, although a little bit sweet for my liking.

Homemade potato and broccoli soup.

Homemade potato and broccoli soup.

I am a big fan of throwing together dishes with the bits and pieces I find in the kitchen. This was a tasty potato and broccoli soup.

Salmon lasagne and mixed salad.

Salmon lasagne and mixed salad.

I also have days when I am extremely lazy. This was a ready made salmon lasagne from Edeka. It was a good way of getting some extra protein into me, but was slightly too fishy (the fact that it was salmon based should have given that away). I had some crispy salad with it to make a more fresh meal.

Quorn sausages.

Quorn sausages.

This was my first time tasting Quorn sausages – Quorn anything actually as the brand is not common in Berlin. I really liked them and would certainly have them again.

What have you been eating lately? Any recommendations for me to add more salads to my life?

Sundays in Mauerpark: Berlin’s Top Flea Market

Do you know how I know that summer is well and truly on its way to Berlin? The U-Bahn station near my apartment becomes a lot more busy on a Sunday with people passing through on their way to Mauerpark.

If you have visited Berlin before, you most likely have heard about Mauerpark as it appears in most guides to the city. If you live in Berlin, well, there really isn’t a chance to avoid the place. It is one of THE hangout spots in Berlin at the weekend. It has a large, green area perfect for barbecuing, drinking a few beers, playing sport or just hanging out to top up your tan. It also offers a free karaoke show every Sunday (arranged by Bearpit Karaoke), as well as the most popular flea market in Berlin.

The flea market is my favourite thing about Mauerpark and the main reason I drag myself over there at 9am every few Sundays or so. The many stalls in the park are mostly taken up by private sellers looking to flog some of their old belongings. It is possible to find some real good treasures here, once you have the patience to rummage through some crap to get there. Not everything on sale in Mauerpark is secondhand and some really cool, small companies often set themselves up here to sell funky t-shirts, bags, stationery, etc. There also some really great food trucks which, of course, are my favourite part of the whole market.

There is not much else to really say about Mauerpark other than that it is a really cool place to spend some time in Berlin. Some words of advice: it is always best to arrive early here, whether it be to browse the stalls without getting trampled on, get a shaded spot for the karaoke, or enough space to lie in the sun. Get a better feel for the place by taking a look at my pictures below.

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These guys sold some of the best chips I ever had in Berlin (see picture below).

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Even dogs like to get in on the sales!

Token TV Tower picture!

Tasty Turkish food!

Fried wrap with rucola, tomato and feta.

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Book Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Leaving Time

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

I have been a massive fan of Jodi Picoult ever since I discovered the first of her books in a local newsagent for €5. These days, I can’t wait until they are reduced and have the book almost as soon as it hits the shops. ‘Leaving Time’ was no exception.

‘Leaving Time’ tells the story of Jenna Metcalf, a teenage girl who has never gotten over the disappearance of her mother, a scientist studying elephant grief who vanished ten years ago. After feeling like she has exhausted all the search routes available to her, Jenna enlists the help of Serenity Jones, a psychic for missing people, and Virgil Stanhope, who originally investigated Alice’s disappearance.

For the first time before reading a Jodi Picoult book, I was a bit skeptical about whether I would enjoy it. They were several negative reviews on Goodreads which stuck in my head, namely that there was too much focus on elephants throughout the story. After finishing the book, I found that I disagreed with these statements. The information about grief in elephants and how they deal with motherhood fit perfectly with the story. I also learned some new and rather interesting facts, which is always a positive. Even if one doesn’t enjoy the many elephant facts provided, the sheer amount of research put into the book must be admired.

The story itself, regarding Jenna, Alice and the other characters, is gripping. Like with all of Picoult’s books, it was a completely different story and a true page-turner. For me, there are two factors which make a great book: a plotline which has you continually changing your mind regarding the outcome, and an ending which you never would have guessed. Both of these factors were very strong in ‘Leaving Time’.

The characters in the book were also likeable. They each had their own story and it was interesting to see their layers unravel the nearer the ending was. I didn’t find that I could really relate with any of the characters, but there were perfect examples of how not everything is as it seems.

I really don’t have anything bad to say about this book. In true Jodi Picoult fashion, it didn’t leave me down one bit. And I know now to take online reviews with a pinch of salt.

Are you a Jodi Picoult fan? What is your favourite book?

Restaurant Review: Irish Harp

I am surprised that it has taken me so long to write about the Irish Harp considering it has been a firm favourite since I moved to Berlin four years ago. I guess every other time I went, I was too caught up in the delicious food to even stop to breathe, let alone take a picture. But I couldn’t keep the place to myself much longer now, could I?

The Irish Harp is located in Charlottenburg on the west side of Berlin. When I used to live in the area, I was guaranteed to visit there at least twice a month. These days, I have a longer trek over, but I still manage to eat there every few weeks or so. Yes, the journey is worth the food which is the main reason I love the place so much.

Irish Harp Bar

Irish Harp Bar, Berlin.

The menu is what I would consider a mix of German and Irish food. So you can choose from Irish stew and fish and chips, or schnitzel and the local’s favourite, currywurst. There are also some decent vegetarian options in the form of burgers, pasta and salad, as well as a monthly seasonal menu. Whenever I go to the Irish Harp, I am lured by the fish and chips which is the closest you can get to home in the city. The batter is thick and perfectly cooked, the chips are thick and crispy, and the addition of malt vinegar rounds things off perfectly.

Fish and chips

Fish and chips at the Irish Harp, Berlin.

I used to also eat at the Irish Harp before I became a pescatarian, and therefore can vouch for some of their meat dishes. Any of the burgers are a good choice. Let’s just say, there is a lot of eating in them. However, I did have a favourite which was the Irish breakfast.

Here is a picture of the breakfast ordered by my eating partner in crime:

Full Irish breakfast

Full Irish breakfast at the Irish Harp, Berlin.

It is a meal and a half, but well worth the struggle it takes to walk afterwards. Between the both of us, we have ordered the full Irish more times than I can remember. Each time was as delicious as the last and consisted of Irish sourced products. That was until the breakfast above. Those with an eagle eye will spot blutwurst on the plate instead of pudding. I hope that this is not a lasting change as, in my opinion, having pudding from home was its key feature.

The Irish Harp is also a good place to go to socialize and have a drink. The staff are very friendly and always have been more than helpful to us each time we are there. You can check their calender online to see which nights they have live music, a table quiz or are showing international football matches.

Terrace at the Irish Harp

Large terrace outside the Irish Harp, Berlin.

Overall, I am a huge fan of the Irish Harp. It will be almost impossible to knock it out of my top five for the best grub in Berlin. I highly recommend going here if you find yourself in town. Leave a comment below if you do and tell me what you thought!

Book Haul May 2015

It took a while to get through my last lot, but I am finally back with another book haul. I selected these beauties from an extensive Goodreads to-read list which now stems over 200 books. I add to this list on a weekly basis so I don’t think I will ever get it down to zero!

First on my list is ‘Paper Towns’ by John Green. Ever since reading ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, I have been wanting to get between the pages of some of Green’s other books. I found that ‘Paper Towns’ had the most positive reviews so I decided to start there. I also wanted to read this before it came out in film because I have a thing about reading the story before actually seeing it.

Paper Towns

Paper Towns by John Green

I stress a lot and am close to driving myself mad worrying about unnecessary things. So, of course, ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff….and it’s all small stuff’ by Richard Carlson immediately spoke to me. I am not expecting a miracle from this book, but I do hope to pick up a few tips to help me relax a little.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff….and it’s all small stuff by Richard Carlson

I have no reason for wanting to read ‘The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion other that I have heard really good things about it. I hope it won’t leave me down!

The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I never really had one main reason for becoming a pescetarian. While I was beginning to feel more and more uncomfortable about eating meat, a reluctance to eat animals was not the main driving force behind my decision. However, two years later, I have become more and more interested in the effects meat eaters can have on the world. So, I decided to do things backwards and start educating myself more about meat-free lifestyles. ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonathan Safran Foer will be my first port of call.

Eating Animals

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Finally, I choose ‘How to Fall in Love’ by Cecelia Ahern. I have been a fan of Cecelia’s since ‘P.S. I Love You’ and am looking forward to getting stuck into her latest offering.

How to Fall in Love

How to Fall in Love by Cecelia Ahern

Have you read any of the books mentioned? What did you think?

Beauty Review: InstaNatural Rose Water Facial Toner and Organic Argan Oil

InstaNatural kindly offered to send me some more of their products to try and after the success of their eye gel, I thought ‘why the hell not?’ I wanted to choose two products which would help with my problem areas at the moment – my hair and skin. This led me to the Rose Water Facial Toner and the Organic Argan Oil.

InstaNatural Rose Water Toner

Rose Water Facial Toner

100% Pure, Natural Moroccan Rose Water Ultimate Facial Toner by InstaNatural

I had heard some great things about rose water, but it was never a product that I ever really used. However, given the chance to use a version which had no chemicals, preservatives or artificial fragrances, I jumped at the chance.

The product claims that it is suitable for all skin types, but past experience has made me become wary of such statements. I am happy to say, however, that the rose water did indeed work well with my skin and was not the cause of any breakouts, a common occurrence when I try a new product. After a few days of applying the rose water to my face, I noticed a difference in my skin. It had become softer. I also found the toner to have a calming effect on my skin, particularly in those instances where I was forced to use wipes to remove my make up. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a reduction in redness by using this product but I think there is nothing in existence which will even my skin tone. Nevertheless, and satisfyingly enough, it did help with closing my pores. In addition, the product has a beautiful smell, and sinks in quite fast to the face meaning that moisture can be applied pretty quickly if in a rush.

InstaNatural Organic Argan Oil

Argan Oil

100% Pure, Certified Organic Argan Oil by InstaNatural

The organic argan oil from InstaNatural is another 100% pure product with no fillers, binders or artificial ingredients. I chose to use the oil solely on my hair, even though it is also suitable for facial application. This is because I didn’t want to use too many new products at once on my sensitive skin. Once a week, I apply the oil (a generous enough amount but a little does go a long way) to my hair and leave it in overnight. My hair is so silky the next day when I wash it out! I wouldn’t say that it has totally combated the frizziness of my hair, but it certainly has improved the condition and makes it feel much healthier.

What natural products have you been using lately?