vendredi, novembre 09, 2018


Seb and I visited Berlin during the recent school holidays while the boys were with their grandparents.

We spent 4 wonderful days walking around this dynamic city. We walked a lot and came across the major landmarks. We visited 3 museums and watched the movie "Crazy rich asians" that I happened to chance upon. And of course, I did some shopping at the nearby Mall of Berlin.

Our stay at Marriott Berlin was perfect. Thanks to Seb's frequent overseas work trips, he accumulated enough reward points and got us a superior room for less than 100€ for the 3 nights. This room gave us excess to the executive lounge. I did not know such lounge exists. For my work trips, I had been to the Air France business lounge at the airport. The hotel's executive lounge was similar. Cozy, private and always replenish with drinks and light snacks. We could even have simple meals there.

From our hotel, we could see the Singapore embassy. I was surprised to see the Singapore flag flying!
We visited East Side Gallery. The 1.3km of the reminding Berlin wall was creatively painted and it was an open art gallery. There were many interesting paintings and thought provoking texts.

I saw these Eastern Germany manufactured cars, the Trabant. They used to be the cars driven in the Eastern Bloc. Now they are used mainly as tourist attractions.
Before the Berlin Wall was built, it was divided into four zones: US, British, French and Russian. We visited this street to see Charlie's Checkpoint. There was a checkpoint and a sighboard. Nearby was the Charlie's Checkpoint museum.
Seb and I were amused to see tourists posing with fake American soldiers for a small fee.

As for museums, we visited the German Historical museum, the Pergamon museum and the Topography of Terror.

The museum island housed many museums and the Pergamon museum is one amazing museum. It contains antiquity from ancient middle east and Isalmic arts. 
The impressive reconstructions of massive archaeological structures – the Pergamon Altar, Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way from Babylon, and the Mshatta Facade – have made the Pergamonmuseum famous throughout the world.

The German Historical museum gave a comprehensive history of Germany since the days of lords and kings. After two hours in there and before reaching the WW1 section, we left. There were many conflicts in europe. In between the numerous conflicts were the 100 years war between 1337 to 1453 and the 30 years war between 1618 and 1648. These information was heavy on the heart. Still, it was a museum full of well preserved items on display.

On our last day, we walked around our district at Potsdamer Platz and arrived at Topography of Terror.  This site was once the Gestapo and SS headquarters. The buildings were demolished after the war. Germans tried to get on with their lives and erased the painful past.

This recent museum detailed the raising of Hilter and how the Nazis came into power resulting into World War 2. How the Jews were persecuted. Homosexuals, gypsies, political opponents were not spared too. 

After the walls collapsed, new buildings were built in these no man zones. Berlin feels young and vibrant. It shows even in its food. Many restaurants have vegan options. It was easy for Seb to find something suitable for him.

Seb organised this trip and after 16 years of marriage (yes, this is our wedding anniversary trip), he is starting to know my travel style. He brought me to a Sunday open market and an indoor Saturday food market. I bought 2 second hand english books and a book about the Berlin wall.

Berlin is an educational trip. Germany has such a dark past. I hope this dark history will never repeat itself though the current political situations around the world seems to be heading towards this path.

jeudi, septembre 13, 2018

Back to Nissan

After having the DS3 for about three years, I decided to change car. I realised that for a small car, the DS3 was consuming too much fuel. The BMW motor (yes, BMW and Citroen exchanged parts) was running on an average 8L of petrol per 100km. That is worse than the VW Touran. Furthermore, petrol prices are on the increase. 

Seb and I discussed and decided that we shall go full electric. We did think of having a hybrid car but on high speed, it still consumes petrol. 

With me working from home, my routine is to go to my La Defense office on Mondays and Paris on Saturdays for the boys' chinese lesson. The rest of the days are ferrying the boys to the next town for their activities. Any medium size electric car can do 200km easily and Paris back and fro from our place is about 130km. 

Seb advised me not to buy an electric car but to lease it. As the batteries of electric cars are evolving constantly , being more and more powerful, the electric car we procured would be obsolete in the years to come.

We do not have much choice in France. We tried Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf, and took a 37 months lease with the Nissan Leaf. We are back to Nissan, my first love. Yeah! (Our first car was a Nissan Note). 

This car has lots of cool features. It has lane departure warning, distance control while on cruise control, ePedal,  back passenger seat belts warning etc...

It was a breeze to drive this car. It was bigger than the DS3 though I still prefer the compact size of the DS3. I have never driven an electric car but it is just as powerful as any other car. It is silent and takes off once the pedal is stepped on. 

For charging the car, we installed a box. It takes about 7 hours to fully charge an empty battery at 6kW. A fully charged battery would cost about 5€ of electricity. The car tracks the estimated time needed to charge and the car regenerates energy when it slows down. So the indicated kilometers is an estimation. So far, we have never reach 0%. The min we had left was 25% of battery.

In the village, there are two charging boxes in the public parking outside the school. It is free to charge there and I have applied for the charging card. There is a Zoe in the village but so far when I charged the car there, the charging boxes were available.

A new school term has started and chinese lesson in Paris will begin soon. Another postive point of having an electric car in Paris, public parking is free; that is if there is an empty one available. :)

mercredi, juin 06, 2018

Medivale festival in Dourdan

Last weekend was the yearly medivale festival in Dourdan. We visited the castle in the late afternoon on Saturday while Seb went to Dourdan swimming pool.

This was the third time we attended this festival. We decided to stay within the castle during our short visit. The boys spent time playing with some wooden games like the bar skittle bowling, puck game etc. They were rewarded with sweets if they scored well. We spent a long time there.
There was performance in the castle ground. Sword fighting. Archery sessions were held at the moat.
For the first time, we visited the museum in the castle. It was a small one and had interesting information on the local history.

While we were queueing for ice cream and fries, Seb called me to say he would pick us up after his swim. We headed to our meeting point and that ended our short visit of the festival. I hope to visit next year on a sunday afternoon to catch the knights battle.