Of Picnics and Bottled Water: Prologue

Twenty-two days away from home, three cities, and two people.

This is a documentation of my recent trip to London, Berlin, and Paris with Justin, the encounter with whom was one of the best things that happened to me during my college years.  Although the two of us had travelled together elsewhere before, this was the first time that we embarked on such an extensive (and expensive) trip.  I am very happy to report that there were quite a bit of food and stories to talk about, so please stay tuned!

But before we proceed any further, let me introduce you to myself and my travel companion:

The Cast

Joyce (the author) is fond of food, parks, and all sorts pretty things.  Going to Europe for the second time, her priorities for this trip were to eat as much as possible, check out vintage shops, buy a lot of dresses, visit the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and picnic in various parks.  She likes to keep travel planning to a minimum and instead prefers to wander freely and get lost.  Consequently, she is also notorious for her carelessness and the mishaps she had encountered in her past travels.  (苦笑)

Justin, who was going across the Atlantic for the first time, takes a special interest in architecture, design, and Disney theme parks.  For him, his principal goals were to familiarize himself with the foreign continent, appreciate its architectural marvels, see museum exhibitions, and visit the Paris Disneyland.  He likes to create meticulous travel plans in advance, a trait that logically made him the chief engineer of this journey.  He develops motion sickness easily and therefore is never able to enjoy the Mad Tea Party.

(Author’s note: This is a gross visual misrepresentation of Justin, and I failed miserably to draw his hairstyle again.  But it is currently 1:19 a.m. and I am too sleepy for another try.)

A Brief Prologue

Our journey began on May 1st and lasted until the 22nd.  The first stop was London, where we would stay until the 10th.  We then would travel to Berlin by plane.  After five days in Berlin, we would leave for Paris and spend our final week there. 

As aforementioned, Justin was the one who did most of the planning.  After we had booked our plane tickets and hostels, I basically did no research until a week before May.  Because I had been too occupied (read: obsessed) with my seminar papers and had exams until two days before the trip, the only substantial research that I completed involved restaurants.  This meant purchasing relevant issues of Gourmet and Bon Appetit and reading online food or fashion blogs, a task that I enjoyed thoroughly.  

This is not to say that I did not toil.  The night before our departure, the man decided to get me to help put together an elaborate itinerary planner, featuring satellite maps of neighbourhoods and landmarks that we would be visiting.  His request came as a surprise, since I had no clue of his intentions.  Secretly I fancied that we would “work,” finish our collective bottle of rum, and go to sleep.  Instead, two sad geeks laboured until four o’clock in the morning.  As a reward for my dedication, I acquired a new zit on my forehead.

Our “love child”

Come to think of it, his determination to produce something so elaborate was somewhat creepy (he even ran to the copy shop the next day to get the thing printed and bound!).  Perhaps this is what four years of architecture school does to people, or maybe he really cared about this trip, or he could just be crazy.  Well, that is Justin for you.  Nevertheless, I have to admit that our efforts did not result in vain and the booklet was very useful: it made German street names a little easier to comprehend.

To Heathrow! >>

*Disclaimer: While the author attempts to write with as much care and honesty as possible, she cannot guarantee that her recollections will represent the views of her companion entirely or accurately.  She will base her writings primarily on her perceptions and interpretations, without making any claims to the “objective truth.”  Any person(s) mentioned in the ensuing posts is free to comment or to raise objections.


  1. skimmer8

    I am more like you, Joyce. I like to wander when I’m traveling and be spontaneous… and make discoveries. But it is true that lack of planning and spontaneity has a down side, too.

    I am eager to hear about your trip.

    By the way, I always stay up late the night before a big trip … telling myself that I can sleep on the plane. ^.^

  2. skimmer8: Yah, sometimes I actually misses the places I wanted to visit because of the lack of research. I would drop myself off at a subway stop close to the place I wanted to visit and assume that I’ll just somehow wander to that place successfully. Needless to say, I often made the wrong turns. ^^”

    I can never sleep on planes: a) I am hypersensitive to any signs of turbulence, and b) the space is just too cramped!

  3. I love how your post is like a quirky little diary for everyone to see. Though there are things I’m most likely to miss out on during trips, a trip with restaurant research hopefully isn’t that bad? :)

  4. Bea: I’m happy to hear that you like this format! The restaurant research definitely helped, but unfortunately we also stumbled upon some places that were not as good as promised (warnings about these places will be given in upcoming posts :P).

  5. This sounds like the beginning to a really good novel :)

  6. Melissa: Haha, thanks!

  7. I am the Justin type. I remember dodging loads of paper on my 2nd trip to Hong Kong (to watch a concert) for places to see,eat and watch. Alas, me and my travel buddy never used the papers.

    Would you mind if I asked for scans of the Justin travel book? Or was that an intimate project not for public viewing? xD

  8. ken’s wife: No, it is anything but intimate. I will try to see if he still has the saved .pdf files on his computer.

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