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Thursday, January 18, 2018

10 Things to bring on a long flight to keep from going insane

Alisha McDarris

Long flights are torture. You know, the ones that span oceans and drop you in a time zone so incongruous with the one you just left that you don't even know what day of the week it is. Plus, sometimes I think I must have the attention span of a barn swallow. I don't honestly know what sort of attention span a barn swallow has, but I can't imagine it's lengthy. They do tend to flit around a lot. So I need plenty of options to occupy my time and attention. Unfortunately, long flights are an unavoidable part of travel, so I find that the best way to avoid losing your mind in that cramped airplane seat with two inches of legroom and no way to move without elbowing the guy in the seat next to you in the ribcage every time you move is to be prepared. For anything. And possibly everything.

 Here are our favorite things to bring along on a long flight to help keep our sanity.

1. A book 

Like a real, actual book. Made of paper and ink and stuff. Batteries die. Eye strain after looking at a tiny screen for six hours is real. You can't have your laptop out for takeoff and landing anyway. Grab several books if your not sure you're gonna like the first one.

2. A pillow

Whether it's a simple inflatable neck pillow or one of those ridiculous-looking ostrich-shaped things that had me ROFLing for five minutes the first time I saw one, they make a huge difference when trying to catch some Zzz's in an upright position.

3. A sleep mask 

See above. For me, this is also vitally important as I've been told I sleep with my eyes open, which is apparently mildly unsettling.

4. A blanket 

It may seem unnecessary, but if you're gonna be on an airplane for 16 hours, you're gonna want to get cozy. Plus, planes are freaking cold! A large shawl, scarf or towel (obviously) will do, too.

5. All the episodes 

Got your iPad or compact laptop (even 15" models don't fit well in economy seats)? Before you take off, download all your fave episodes or any movies you've been meaning to see from your Netflix or Amazon Prime account.

6. Headphones and a diverse playlist 

I don't know what I'm going to want to listen to after I board a plane. Maybe rock. Maybe electronica. Maybe the Les Miserables soundtrack. Pick your faves from multiple genres and make sure they're downloaded to your phone prior to takeoff.

7. Socks 

Even if it's hot, don't be that guy walking around barefoot, stinking up the plane. Just. Don't.

8. Snacks 

Lots of snacks. You're not gonna want to pay $8 for that tiny bag of pretzels. So stuff your pockets. For a long haul on a cheap flight that doesn't offer meals, stuff some sandwiches or cold noodles or some such in there, too.

9. Something to keep your hands (or your brain) busy 

I have a hard time sitting still, even if I'm watching TV or listening to music. I want to be doing something. So bringing a coloring book, knitting, brain teasers, word puzzles, stuff like that, will help keep you from going stir crazy.

10. Work 

Unless, of course, you're vacationing. We don't vacation; we travel, which usually involves some sort of work while we are away, even if it's travel-related. There's no better time to catch up on a project, be it a personal project like a photo book or screenplay or a work thing, than when you're stuck in a flying metal tube for 12 hours.

A good book and a cup of orange juice on a long flight. Where my Vonnegut fans at?

Have your own fave items for planes? Share 'em! Happy travels!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Terradrift gets Swagtastic

Alisha McDarris
There's a new link at the top of our site. You may have noticed it. It says Store. And it's there because we think you need more awesome stuff in your closet. Stuff that proclaims to the world how awesome you are. Stuff that says, I've been places, bruh. We think you need it because we think we need it and we're pretty much the same, you and I. So if you haven't yet, check out the sweet threads we designed just for you (ok, maybe also for us).

And yes, they do come in all shapes, sizes, styles and colors. I mean, just look at some of these stellar options just begging to added to your wardrobe. There are shirts for men, shirts for women, T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, zip-ups, tank tops, athletic shirts, you name it.

I mean, check out this legit baseball tee. Love it.

And if you want to keep it basic, show your love for the world and all its cultures with some simple text.

Personally, I love a good muscle tank for the gym. Shows off my guns (and my propensity to wander).

Or keep it simple and show some love for your favorite travel site.

Check out the full lineup in the store and get yourself some Terradrift swag! You won't regret it.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Free things to do in Vienna, Austria

Alisha McDarris

Austria's not like a lot of other European cities. I mean, there are still tourists everywhere, that's a given, but they're mostly concentrated in one general area and the city itself has a very different vibe from party cities like Berlin, historical sites like Bruges, and outdoor adventure capitals like Reykjavik. Vienna is classy. Real classy.

I'm talking opera and immaculate streets and shiny new buildings. I think Vienna might be the only city we visited during our two-month European tour where we never saw anyone urinating in the street. Not a single time! It was amazing! And while it's certainly a clean and modern place to be, that comes with its own set of complications, i.e. it's not cheap. In fact, we were a bit surprised at the lack of free things to do during our stay. But in order that that not happen to you, we've compiled a list of the best free and super cheap things to do to keep you occupied for a few days in this mecca of music.

The Viennese are very proud to home to Mozart in life and in death.

Getting Around Vienna

Buses, trains and trams: The public transport in Vienna is pretty good, but it's not the cheapest in Europe at 2.20 per trip. There are electronic ticket kiosks at all underground stations and major hubs, but you can also get tickets at newsstands and similar outlets. Buying the ticket on the tram or bus will cost .10 extra. Don't forget to stamp-validate them before you board. You can also get a 24-hour, 48-hour or 72-hour pass for 7.60, 13.30 and 16.50. Not including the airport, of course. That would be too easy.

From the Airport: There are several was to get into the city from the airport. A 16-minute ride on the City Airport Train (CAT) i€11 and takes you to Mitte station. The Railjet takes a little longer at 26 minutes but only costs €3.90 and goes to a few different stations or the bus, which goes straight downtown to several stops but costs €8. 

Bike Share: Too far to walk but don't want to take the bus? No problem. Just pick up a Citybike from one of the dozens of stations in and outside the city. Vienna's bike share is actually one of the best we used as it was only €1 to register and then free to use a bike for 30 minutes as many times as you want. The kiosks do make you swipe a card and put a monetary "hold" on it in case you never bring the bike back, but you can basically ride around the city for free! As long as you do it in 30-minute bursts, of course.

Just a bit of bouldering to break up the afternoon
Walk: The city is totally walkable. Take a stroll to get from point A to point B and you might stumble upon a fun surprise. We decided to walk to Schönbrunn Palace and end up passing a little playground with a pretty legit bouldering setup where we killed some time climbing on rocks. Fun!

Free things to do in Vienna

Bring your camera. You're gonna be taking a lot of photos or gardens and architecture!
The mermen and horses at Schönbrunn Palace
The view of the gardens from Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace: No joke, we almost didn't go. We were bummed about our options for free entertainment and weren't sure if we could be bothered to make the trek out there. It's probably only a 15-20 minute bus ride, but we didn't want to pay for that and we hadn't yet discovered the bike share program. Fortunately, my cousin who had been before recommended we give it a go and we quite enjoyed ourselves. It's free to walk around most of the gardens and grounds and you can get some pretty stunning views. Plus there's a fountain with mermen riding merhorses. You know, like mermaids, but with horses...who had fins instead of hooves. That alone would have been worth the walk. Some attractions like the gallery and orange grove charge for admission.

MUSA is a small, strange art museum with changing exhibits

Museumsquartier: This is more of a place to just go and hang out than browse, but if you want to lounge on some funky chairs, use some wifi, drink some coffee and people-watch, thesis the place to do it. It's pretty hip, the open courtyard surrounded by museums, and is worth a walk-through at the very least. You should be able to spot a little artwork in some of the walkways and there is always the museum gift shop. And while the museums do charge admission, on the first Sunday of the month most of them are free (the Geldmuseum, Kunsthalle am Karlsplatz, Bezirksmuseen, and MUSA, [some of which are not in Museumquartier] are always free).

St. Stephens's Cathedral (Stephansdom), Vienna, Austria

The interior of St. Stephen's

St. Stephen's Cathedral: You can't miss this church in the middle of the city center, not least of which because there will be hordes of tourists surrounding it constantly. It's free to go in and appreciate the stunning architecture, so by all means do. If you want a spooky tour, that'll cost you (but more on that below).

Rathaus, or City Hall, Vienna, Austria

City Hall (Rathaus): In the summer months you might be able to catch a free flick in the courtyard, but if not, the building is a marvel to look at. Some weekdays it's even open to tours if you want to rent an audio guide and go exploring.

Markets: Whether you want fresh produce, tchotchkes, souvenirs, or to be bombarded by servers begging you to come eat at their restaurant, there's a market for that. Naschmarkt is the biggest, but everything from Turkish specialties to flea market finds abound from one market to another.

Stroll the streets in and along the Ringstrasse for shopping, dining, cafes, history, you name it

Yes, that is a fountain with a man projectile vomiting water. So glad you asked.

Ringstrasse: Just start walking and marvel at the parks, statues (maybe of the city's beloved Mozart), and architecture in this historic district. It's called Ring Road because on a map it's actually a ring around the city that contains everything from the ritzy shopping area to St. Stephen's to Hoffburg Palace and more. Just take your time and take it all in.

Cheap things to do in Vienna

"Free" Tour: I say "free" because while guides don't charge for their services, they do appreciate a tip at the end. So while you don't have to drop €20 on a tour, a couple bucks at the end of the 2.5 hours is more or less expected.

Saint Stephen's Catacombs Tour: You know us. If there's one thing we're going to spend our hard-earned and harder-horded cash on, it's gonna be something weird and definitely not mainstream. One day it was spent on a tour of the crypts below the iconic church. And let me tell you, that 5 was totally worth it. A guide will take you down, show you where royalty (or sometimes just their innards) were interred, right next door to where thousands of black plague victims' bones are piled to the ceiling. Creepy. Eerie. We love that stuff.

The Vienna State Opera House or Staatstoper

The Staatstoper at night

The State Opera (Wiener Staatstoper): You might not think a budget trip to Vienna would include a visit to the famous opera house, but it most certainly could. The venue isn't the only one that lets lowly backpackers enjoy a show, either. We saw the ballet Giselle for only 4 per person. And that was a splurge. We could have gotten tickets for 3. Here's how: 80 minutes before each performance you can enter at the "Wiener Staatstoper Stehplatz-Kasse" sign at the rear of the building. Inside, line up in the hallway to get your tickets (one per person). A limited but hefty number of tickets are handed out (don't worry, we got there just after they opened for sales and still got some, as did everyone behind us in line) and you can decide which balcony you want to be on. Full disclosure: You will be standing for the duration of the performance, but there are rails to lean on. Just bring a scarf or sweater to claim your spot so you can come and go as you please before the show starts.

Cheap eats in Vienna

Der Wiener Dewan: This is a pay-what-you-like all-you-can-eat buffet. Like that sound of that? It's all Pakistani food and plenty or it is vegetarian and vegan. It's pretty popular with the backpacker crowd, so don't be surprised if you run into half the residents of your hostel during dinner.

A cheap dinner at Voodies: burger, dutch fries, lemonade and mm mmm peanut sauce

Voodies: Besides cheap vegan burgers and killer dutch fries, they have some tasty house-made lemonades (because man do the Germans and Viennese like their lemonade)! You can get just a burger or a burger, fries with dipping sauce and lemonade for just around 11.50. There are wraps, not-dogs and salads, too, of course.

Look at that marzipan cake from Nom Nom Vegan Bakery

Nom Nom Vegan Bakery: We don't usually go for the fru-fru girly stuff, but despite the very cutesy tea-and-cupcakes interior of this shop, these sweets deserve mad respect. They have cupcakes and pie and macaroons and marzipan and you name it. Wash it down with a coffee if you like, but get thee across the river for some sugar.

Swing Kitchen: Vegan burgers and desserts like cheesecake and tarts that'll make your mouth water. While not as cheap as Voodies, they have some impressive options and a few things that are worth spending a few bucks more (like €7-9 for a burger).

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Terradrift goes to Dresden, Germany

Alisha McDarris

For the three of you reading who have ever heard of Dresden: Good for you. You either know more about WWII history than most or you're a Kurt Vonnegut fan. I was the latter. Nothing like a little "Slaughterhouse Five" to teach you a little something about history. But whether you knew the city existed or not, you should know it's well worth a visit. It's balanced mix of history and culture, new and old, making it a lovely place to spend a few days. Or an afternoon, as we did.

First of all, a little history:

We actually weren't really "planning" on passing through Dresden. The thought had crossed my mind - I am a Vonnegut fan, after all - but I hadn't yet located it on a map when we ran into a couple of German girls in Iceland with whom we hitchhiked for two days who casually mentioned it. When I asked them about the city they described a place of wonderment: a beautiful river, cafes by the water, historical buildings, rocking concerts... I was intrigued, not least of all because Vonnegut himself was a prisoner of war there in WWII and wrote about the firebombing in his fictional novel, "Slaughterhouse Five."

Naturally, we had to go. There was no excuse when we discovered it was basically halfway between Berlin and Prague, which were scheduled back-to-back on our itinerary. So we took a bus from Berlin and arrived in Dresden in the morning, hit the sidewalk and started walking.

If this isn't a wild juxtaposition of old and new in Dresden I don't know what is

The city is more or less split in two by the Elbe River. One one side is the historic district, or rather, what was left of it after the city was wiped out in 1945. On the other is the more modern city center, peppered with cafes, shops, restaurants, vegan ice cream, anything you could hope for in a relatively small city in Germany. It was quite lovely, actually. It hit the oft-missed sweet-spot of modernity and small-town loveliness that I adore in a city. The main street was wide and lined with trees and park benches, a great place to drop our bags and dig into the sad lunch of bread and marinated tofu that we had pieced together from the grocery store. There were fountains and churches and marketplaces and it was just a nice place to find oneself.

Horse-drawn wagon rides for those not traveling on a dime ;-)

But we wanted to see architecture. History. So we waltzed across the river, peering down the way to see if we could spot the building where Vonnegut hid out during the firestorm (we couldn't - it's been turned into a convention center parking lot or some such), and promptly panicked as I ran out of data on my phone plan.

I say we, but what I mean is I panicked. Josh rarely panics. Which is good, because you hardly need two people threatening to throw cell phones across the cobbled street into a 600-year-old building. So instead of just starting to wander, we spent an hour locating free WiFi and squatting on the sidewalk next to a gift shop trying to get it to work again. It's not easy when your European service provider's website is all in French and Google won't offer to translate it on your phone for some reason. By the time we did work it out we decided we needed coffee and sustenance before carrying on.

A weekend festival in Dresden's Striezelmarkt

Fortunately, Aha Cafe was nearby and we dug into a bowl of tasty potato soup, complete with brown bread (we were in Germany, after all), and sucked down some coffee. I then proceeded to use the men's restroom in the basement because I somehow missed the sign for the women's toilet on the main floor. Lucky for me, as I didn't realize what I had done until I came back upstairs, no one else decided to use the bathroom at the same time. Not that I would have been bothered at this point in our two-month European jaunt; by then we had already been using co-ed hostel bathrooms for weeks.

A history in mosaic: the Furstenzurg or "Procession of Princes"

Theaterplatz in Dresden

Then we got on to the historical stuff. And man, let me tell you that what didn't get destroyed during wartime is singularly impressive. Striking churches, towering monuments, and one former palace grounds called Zwinger. It may cost a fee for entry into the museum, but it's free to wander the open garden in the center of the square complex. You can even hike up some stairs from the outside and treat yourself to a view from above. To say it's an impressive piece of architectural craftsmanship is being modest.

The view from the terrace at Zwinger

A stroll around the gardens at Zwinger provides a pleasant diversion

Many of the baroque churches, like Frauenkirche, charge to go in and up into towers with sweeping views of the city, but it's free to admire them from the street! The Theaterplatz and Katholische Hofkirche were equally mesmerizing. Basically we just walked up and down winding streets all afternoon examining ages-old buildings and art. There was a surprise around every corner.

You can pay to go up into the Frauenkirche tower if you fancy a view
The Katholische Hofkirch, Dresden

But because most of the city was destroyed, the only historical part left is quite small in comparison to the city as a whole. So in no time we found ourselves back into modern streetscapes again and a street market that had been transformed into a mini festival for the weekend. Tiny Ferris wheel and all.

Basically, Dresden is a daydream of a town. In fact, it was the first European city we had visited that met my odd and often contradictory standards for a place I could possibly see myself living. Except for the weather. It gets too dang cold in Germany. Long story short, it's a great place to spend a weekend wandering streets, looking at art, and maybe going on a treasure hunt for Vonnegut's slaughterhouse.

And of course, a Dresden pint before the bus ride to Prague

Fun Facts about Dresden, Germany:

  • Toothpaste and coffee filters were invented in Dresden
  • The number of deaths reported after the firebombing in1945 range from 18,000 to 200,000
  • Pre-WWII Dresden was considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world
  • After the war, many of the old buildings were reconstructed from what was left of them and a new city was built around it
  • There is an international airport and several rail and bus stations making traveling to Dresden easy (It costs between 10-12 to get there from Berlin or Prague and only takes a few hours by bus or ride-share)
  • The slaughterhouse where Vonnegut hid out during the fire bombing is now a convention center. The basement where he was has been renovated but contains a memorial wall in his honor. Find it here:

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Free things to do in Berlin, Germany

Alisha McDarris

Ah, Berlin. Now this is a city where I could feel at home. Modern conveniences, good coffee, entertainment venues, green space, lots of vegan food, and nobody is pretentiously over-dressed for everything. I like it. And what's more, there are plenty of free things to do in this city just brimming with history! Start searching for flights, 'cause you're gonna want to pay this metropolitan center a visit.

Getting Around Berlin

Public transportation in Berlin is as good as it gets in Europe. There are clear signs, everything is in English, and screens often alert you when your stop is approaching. So get yourself a ticket and ride the rails without fear.

From the airport
You can take the S-Bahn Railway, Regional Railway (Airport Express) or the bus. It costs €3.30 for any and all methods, so take your pick depending on where you're headed.

Trains, Buses and Trams
All forms of public transport (s-Bahn, U-Bahn, buses) in Berlin are super easy to use and it's cheap. Tickets are on the honor system, so you buy one at a time or a pass or a whole pack of tickets at a ticket machine at most stops and stamp or swipe it as you board. We never saw anyone checking tickets, but we heard from locals that especially in high tourist areas random checks were semi-frequent, so don't risk it. At 2.80 for a ticket that gets you on any method of transport for two hours, why would you need to? There's also a short-haul ticket for 1.70 if you're going three stops or less in a single direction. It's 7 for a day pass and 30 for a week.

This is Berlin's public bike-share company. You can download the app or register on their website then pay as little as 1 per half-hour or 3 for unlimited 30-minute trips in a 24-hour period. Just pick up a bike and return it to the most convenient location to your destination.

A walk through Großer Tiergarten unearths all sorts of little garden-y surprises

Free things to do in Berlin, Germany

There are enough free events and activities in Berlin to keep you busy for several days at least. So spend that money on more exciting things. Like vegan food.

Brandenburg Gate
Not only is this where all the free tours meet, it's where all the tourists come to hang out on their first day in town. You can take a look at the huge gate, look up at the balcony where Michael Jackson dangled a baby, and get crappy coffee from Starbucks if that's your thing. Take a couple snaps and use the free WiFi if you need it. I know I did! Nothing like making a business phone call beneath Brandenburg Gate and trying not to freeze my butt off on the cold stone structure.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe 

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Just down the street from Brandenburg Gate is this eerie and haunting memorial. Made up of xx monoliths, all different heights, spaced evenly to create echoing hallways of sorts, it evokes a sense of quiet and reverie. It's free to take a walk through the cement structures, just don't climb on them; it's a memorial, after all. There's also a museum beneath the monuments where you can read stories and see faces of Jews who lost their lives during WWII. It's a dark, solemn place, so be prepared.

Checkpoint Charlie. Not a lot to look at, but I guess you've got to at least go look.

Checkpoint Charlie
This point is literally just a checkpoint for troops leaving or entering East Berlin. There's not much to see other than a big photo of an American soldier. But on the corner is a little outdoor gallery where you can look at photos and read about some of what went down at or near Checkpoint Charlie and the way things were during that era of tension.

Plan to spend at least and hour at the Topography of Terror
The Berlin Wall Memorial

Topography of Terror (Topographie des Terrors)
A short walk from Checkpoint Charlie is this museum/photography exhibit about the terrors of WWII. It's right next to one of the longest remaining sections of the wall that's still in tact, The Berlin Wall Memorial, which is lined with it's own photo-timeline of happenings, but inside the building you can spend hours reading about the horrors that were done to not only Jews, but homosexuals, gypsies, and so many more in nearly every country in Europe. This is the stuff you didn't hear about in school.

Weekend Markets
Saturdays and Sundays offer a wealth of farmers markets and flea markets. If you're in Berlin over a weekend, it's worth taking an hour or two to peruse the aisles of second-hand, antique, or hand-made wares filling the stalls. Our favorite was Mauerpark.

Just one of the many murals that are part of East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery
The longest section of the Berlin Wall still remaining has been turned into an art gallery. The city brought in artists from all over the world to turn the concrete structure into something beautiful. So grab a lunch to go (for a picnic along the river) and take a walk down the 2 kilometer stretch of road.

Have a wander in this modern, touristy square for the requisite craning up at the famous TV Tower. Snap your photos, grab a snack and check out some of the shops nearby for souvenirs (or sunglasses to replace the ones you lost the previous afternoon...).

A statue in Großer Tiergarten

Großer Tiergarten and Victory Column

In Berlin's largest and oldest park you could walk for hours. And hours. It's huge. But near the middle is the famous Victory Column commemorating victory in the Prussian-Danish war. The park is a great place to have a picnic, admire some sculptures, or play on a playground.

Reichstag Building
Visiting the interior, and the Dome on top, of Germany's parliament building is free, but you have to register in advance. If you didn't, you might still be able to go up to the dome, you just have to request tickets two hours to two days early at the Visitors' Service Center nearby. If you register in advance, though, you can often get a tour of the building, visit the historical exhibits, or even watch a plenary sitting.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
While entry is free, if you're taking public transit it'll cost you a few bucks to get there and back as it's not actually in Berlin. There are guided tours available for 15 per person and plenty of tours from the city that'll cost a pretty penny, but the exhibits at the site are all free. It's 45-60 minutes away by train.

Cheap Things to do in Berlin

It's not all free all the time, of course. But if you're going to spend, here's how to save in Berlin.

Free walking tours
There are plenty of free walking tours to choose from, but we tended to stick with Sandeman's tours while in Europe because after the first one we felt we knew what to expect. The tour in Berlin was especially good as the guide takes you to many of the historically relevant spots in the city and covers history from the Berlin Wall to WWII and beyond. Tips are expected at the end (so it's not technically free), but you can give whatever you feel is fair.

Berlin's famous TV tower

TV Tower
Also known as the Berliner Fersehturm, tickets to ascend 203 meters into the sky for a look down on the city will run you 13. You can buy a fast track ticket online to avoid the lines once you get there, but depending on when you want to go it'll cost a bit more at 14-17 per person.

Museum Island
Looking for museums? Look no further. This Unesco World Heritage Site houses five of the biggest and best museums in the city, including, but not limited to: The Neues, Altes and Pergamon Museums. They all have separate admission prices that range between 10-12. However, if you'e crunched for time or want to catch 'em all, you might consider the Museum Pass. It costs 29, but gets you admission to 35 museums all over the city and public transport for three days. There's also the Museum Island Pass, which is €18 and grants entry to all five museums on the island for a day. You can pick one up in visitor centers or at the museums themselves.

Vegan food is everywhere in Berlin

Cheap Eats in Berlin

Want to find cheap food, cheap restaurants in Berlin? Maybe some of Berlin's tasty (and cheap) vegan food? Look no further. Berlin is overflowing with it. In fact, it's one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world!

One of the many Goodies locations in Berlin

This vegan and vegetarian joint has good prices for healthy (and not healthy but still delicious) brekky, lunch and dinner. Grab a sandwich to go for around 6.00, get a croissant and cappuccino for a couple bucks each, and pick up a raw dessert while you're at it. There are several locations, some of which are all vegan and some of which have vegetarian options, so check if you need to, but stuff your face cause it's all delish.

It may not look like much, But Curry at the Wall is a tasty, cheap snack

Curry at the Wall
You can't leave Berlin without eating some currywurst (pronounced curryvurst), and that includes vegans. This little food trailer may not look like much, but it has vegan and non-vegan varieties and at only 3.50 per sausage, you can afford to get your own.

Pick a spot. It's all good and most places have free WiFi so you can sip your latte and check your email. Just skip the Starbucks, OK? Berlin has so many better options that you can't experience at home.

Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Nuen is an amazing place for food from all over the world (including vegan food)

Markthalle Nuen Street Food Thursday
Once a week on Thursdays, this weekend market turns into a foodie's paradise. Every inch of the warehouse-y space is packed full of vendors selling international food, everything from baked goods to pizza, sushi to Yemen cuisine. And alcohol. Lots of alcohol. Of course, you can spend a lot here on delightful full meals, but you can also just get your snack on, purchasing small bites for as little as €1.50 or so. If you're in town, I highly recommend it. It runs from 5-10 pm and I suggest getting there early to avoid the crowds.

Gluck to Go has several different styles of veggie burgers with creative toppings

Glück To Go
For tasty vegan and vegetarian burgers and some pretty delicious fries, this is your place. There are several kinds of patties to choose from and less than standard condiments (think mango chutney or balsamic). Burger and fries together will run you about 6-7.

Wonder Waffle
When we were there, this uber popular local chain was only serving vegan waffles at a handful of their locations one or two days a week, so if that's what you want, check before you go. Otherwise, this joint basically serves up waffle omelets stuffed with fruit, candy, ice cream, whatever you want. They start at 3, but specialty fillings can cost extra.

Indoor and outdoor markets are a great way to grab locally made food and fresh produce

Or Markthalle and Wochenmarkt, as they're known in German. These are indoor and outdoor markets all over the city. Markthalle are indoors and are general open every day and have options ranging from fresh produce to homemade sausage and soap to food stalls. Many even have vegan food. So don't be afraid to browse as you may just find a really great deal on lunch.

Savory Chat
This vegetarian Asian restaurant has Thai and Vietnamese deliciousness with all sorts of "mock meats." Appetizers are under €4 and you can get a full meal for under €10, so all in all, not a bad deal. Plus it's tasty!

I know that's less of a place than a thing, but it plays. Beer is super cheap in Berlin. And Germans have strict standards for brewing, so you can count on a reasonably decent beverage. In the grocery store, you can buy single cans and bottles for less than a bottle of water, between .30-.80 cents. In a bar or restaurant you can expect to pay a couple bucks.

Basically, Berlin wins. For everything. I'd go back just to eat more food, no joke. Have a fave spot in the city? Feel free to share!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Gear Guide: Peak Design Camera Clutch

Alisha McDarris

It being holiday present purchasing season and all, I figured, what better time to write about another piece of gear I love from my fave camera accessory manufacturer: Peak Design. No joke, I love literally all of their stuff. All of it. And I love that it all works together so seamlessly. It all starts with the Capture Clip and builds from there. But the latest piece of tech I tried out was the Clutch. I'm not a big fan of camera straps, though as they go, you can't beat the Slide Lite for convenience and cool factor, but I do occasionally need a little something to help secure my camera to my person when I'm leaning over a cliff for "that shot" or jumping over water to get to a dock. Just ask my summer employers. They'll tell you this would have been a wise investment before I dropped their camera in the lake. Live and learn. In any case, here's what we think of the Peak Design Clutch.

First of all, it looks super awesome. For real. Just look at it!

Peak Design Clutch
Peak Design Clutch

See? Super awesome. Second, it fits all manner of hand sizes and DSLR's. And since it uses PD's Anchor Link Quick Connect system on one side, you don't even have to remove the quick release plate when you attach the Clutch. You can swap right from a strap to the clutch to nothing at all. Cause it quickly connects. Get it? In fact, that might be my favorite thing about PD: All their products work together, often interchangeably. Which is awesome because as much as I loved my designed-for-women Black Rapid strap, if I wanted to use my PD Capture Clip or a tripod or anything else that screwed into the bottom of my camera, no dice. It was one or the other. Peak Design created a screw-in plate that works with ARCA-type tripods and has strategically-placed holes in it for their Anchor Links so I can oh so easily switch from using a tripod to my Capture Clip to my SlideLite strap to my Clutch or to nothing at all. Brilliant. It's like they planned it or something.

Check out how the quick connect Anchors work with not just the Clutch, but the SlideLite, too.

But I often prefer the Clutch as opposed to a strap because I don't always want a camera hanging across my body. But even if I'm hand-carrying or lugging my camera around in a bag, I really can't be trusted not to drop expensive equipment. Ask anybody. The Clutch is the perfect solution. Attached to my Canon 6D, it takes up very little space if I'm carrying it in a camera bag and doesn't look ridiculous dangling two feet below my camera like a strap would if I have it on my Capture Clip attached to a belt or backpack. Best of both worlds.

The quick connect Anchors allow accessories to be easily swapped.

On the bottom, Clutch hooks up to the included quick-release plate via PD's Anchor attachment. Two of these little guys are included. And if you're worried they look too thin and frail to hold your DSLR and largest lenses and accessories, fear not: the tiny cords are designed to indicate when they need replaced by turning yellow, then red as they wear out. Up top it loops through the D-rings built into the DSLR and connects quickly and easily with a self-locking carabiner-type clip. It's actually the world’s first camera hand strap that is quick-connecting and quick-adjusting. It's both secure and easily removable if you want to swap it for another accessory. Then all that's left is to easily tighten or loosen that stylish adjuster for the perfect fit for any size hand. Including mine. Which is quite small. And it's comfortable. Yay!

Loosening and tightening the Clutch is super quick and easy.

My only disappointment is that it doesn't work on my little mirrorless Fuji X-T20. I've been using that more and more as we travel, but the camera is just too small and the Clutch isn't designed for something of that specific design (something with the shutter release on top and no D-rings). Fortunately, they have other products like their Leash that fill that void. That's the problem with having such a diverse gear arsenal, I guess: It requires lots of different accessories. But it's good to know that even if I do have to dedicate more space to that sort of thing in my camera bag, everything works together seamlessly, designed in a singularly intuitive way that I've only seen Peak Design master.

Want $10 toward your first/next PD product? Of course you do! Just order HERE and it's all yours!

*Product was furnished for this article but in no way affected the outcome or content of this review.

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