Berlin: Highlights

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It’s been two months since my wonderful trip to Berlin and yes, I am feeling slightly guilty for not having posted this earlier…

The work/eat/sleep/repeat lifestyle sucked me back in for a while, and then the Easter holidays happened (yay!), I feel alive and inspired again. I was also so, so lucky and managed to experience a whole new country: Japan. I can’t wait to share that with you, it was a truly incredible country. My only regret was having to come home! But first things first…

Berlin Highlights

The low-down:

Your euros can go a long way in Germany’s capital! The majority of my highlights cost us a grand totaly of 0€. Berlin was, shockingly, a very affordable city to visit; I completely over-budgeted and have leftover euros I will have to spend at some point in the future.

There are so many places worth visiting to discover the diverse and rich culture and history of Germany’s capital. After 6 days, there was still so much more to see, but we will have to wait for our next trip. Luckily, Berlin in summer has a completely different vibe, so I look forward to experiencing the city without frozen limbs in February..!

If you still need to catch up on the first post in this series, you may find it here:  Berlin, Berlin!

Brandenburg Gate at night

This photo pretty much speaks for itself. It was a great view! In summer, I believe there is a nice park to explore just behind it.

Recommended duration of visit: 15-30 minutes

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Brandenburg Gate

Look down

Berlin has its fair share of rooftop bars, but on a rainy day, Monkey Bar was a nice way to shelter from the rain/cold while spying on some of the Zoo’s inhabitants below!

Recommended duration of visit: Under 1 hour

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Monkey Bar, view of the Berlin Zoo

Jewish Museum

I highly recommend the Jewish Museum which was nothing short of an experience. The exhibits to the architecture of the building were really powerful and thought-provoking.

Recommended duration of visit: 1-2 hours

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Jewish Museum

Walk, just walk

The public transport in Berlin was really impressive, and we were able to get anywhere by bus, tram, or U-Bahn/S-Bahn so easily. What I really loved though was getting off in a neighbourhood and just exploring.

 

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Berlin streets

The Holocaust Memorial

This is free so there is no excuse not to do it. There is an indoor exhibit underground, below the memorial which has a collection of a range of testimonials and collections from victims and survivors of the Shoah.

Recommended duration of visit: 1 hour

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Holocaust Memorial

Visit the Bundestag

The roof terrace and dome of the Reichstag Building offer great views of the city. A free audio guide is also included (who doesn’t love a free audio guide?) which lets you brush up on your knowledge of the Reichstag Building and its surroundings, the German Bundestag, the work of Parliament, and the sights you can see as you walk up and around the dome.

Remember to book in advance online to be able to take advantage of this free activity!

Recommended duration of visit: Under 1 hour

berlin1Walk the Berlin Wall memorial

The East Side Gallery is an interesting walk where you can see the open air art ‘gallery,’ but to better comprehend what life was like during this time, The Berlin Wall Memorial, located on Bernauer Strasse, gives a powerful insight into this historic moment. It highlights what this particular street and its residents experienced divided by the Berlin Wall.  It gives visitors an impression of the fortifications on the Eastern side but also the events which took place there. I recommend visiting during the evening which is when we went; the darkness envelopes your surroundings, allowing you to visualise what this street might have looked like not so long ago.

Another interesting exhibition nearby which is worth seeing is the Ghost Stations Exhibition, “Border Stations and Ghost Stations in Divided Berlin,” which can be viewed at Nordbahnhof S-Bahn station. It gives an idea of how the underground transport system worked during the Berlin Wall.

Recommended duration of visit: 1 hour

 

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

One of my colleagues encouraged me to ‘go to the church, which has stained glass everywhere – it is really beautiful to look at.’ Not a lot to go on, but luckily my friend Kam, who I was visiting, knew exactly what my colleague was talking about – the Kaiser Wilhelm, Memorial Church. This Church, was built in 1959-1963 in what was West Berlin, after the original 19th-century church was bombed during WWII. . The damaged spire of the old church remains, which is adjacent to the new-build and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall (which is so beautiful!!). It’s free to enter both and it’s really amazing to see the new and old standing harmoniously together.

Recommended duration of visit: 30 minutes

 

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What are your Berlin highlights? Let me know in the comments!

Robyn

Berlin, Berlin!

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After 5 months of zero travel, it felt strange packing my bags and heading to the airport for February half term to the German capital. A week away was refreshing, and I had missed that sense of adventure, discovering a new city and all it had to offer.

In this post I am going to give an overview of my trip, sharing the best of accommodation, transport, the costs and the wonderful food. Next post: the best places to visit in Berlin.

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Meeting me at the other end was one of my closest friends who I hadn’t seen since our Graduation last July, and also my boyfriend who arrived on a separate flight.

She has been studying in Berlin for the last six months, learning German and exploring Berlin, which I think is very exciting. We were lucky enough to visit restaurants, bars and sites we would never have found had we been traveling on our own – even with our beloved TripAdvisor app.

Accommodation

My boyfriend and I booked an Airbnb apartment for the trip and we were both thrilled with it. At £30 each a night, we had our own flat with full amenities, steps from the tram, in the hip area of Prenzauer Berg in what was part of ‘East Berlin’. We booked this accommodation ourselves but fate happened that we were staying on the very same street as my friend! Albeit, it was a very long street and she was 5 stops away on the tram. Still, this was great as we could co-ordinate meeting up much easier than if we were staying on the other side of the city.

Berlin is not a beautiful city;

it is intriguing, has a profoundly interesting and distressing history, it carries a sense of being liberal and slightly rebellious. It is a city of contrasts and its streets are museums in their own right.

6 days in the city gave us enough time to ‘see’ the sights and also to begin to get a feel for the place. At the start of the week, I decided that Berlin was not for me; grimy, so hipster at times that I couldn’t cope, it even reminded me a bit of Budapest which I enjoyed but was not my favourite city. After a few days it really grew on me though. It is a very livable city.

There are three aspects which we enjoyed most about Berlin; its very affordable, the public transport system is great and possibly the most important thing – the food was so good.

It’s an an affordable city

Aside from the cost of flights, accommodation and a 42€ Berlin transport pass, six days in Berlin only cost 100€ for all food, drink and entry to sites. We were not very thrifty as we ate out every lunchtime and evening. I came back with quite a few euros to spare which hardly ever happens.

Transport

We paid the 42$ for a 6-dy transport pass for all tram, bus, U-Bahn and S-Bahn travel in Berlin. This I would highly recommend as we relied heavily on public transport to get around. The transport was always punctual and even had services which run through the night. Moreover, there are no ticket barriers or staff checking passengers for valid tickets. So different to what I know in the UK. There is a sense of trust that people do not abuse the system, however I am sure that there are those that do. Of course, I could have got away with buying no ticket for the entire trip as I never had to show mine, but it is not worth it as you can be charged a heavy fine. Also, as the transport is of such good quality, its worth buying to ensure that this continues.

Delicious food and drink

The three of us agreed that we did not eat one bad meal all week. We discovered wonderful homemade pizzas for 3.90€ that were so good, we went back to the Pizzeria for more on our final night. We discovered a chic cocktail bar in West Berlin, where you have to ring a doorbell to be let in. Berlin does excellent burgers, as we found at Shisho. Beat the queue and spend an hour at the Monkey Bar in the early afternoon and have a birds-eye view over the Berlin Zoo. Or for a more affordable option, visit Bikini Berlins rooftop view next door for a free showing!

See you next time!

Enamoured by Amsterdam

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I was surprisingly impressed by Amsterdam. The city is a hotspot for tourists and I was initially concerned that a four-day trip to the Dam for Easter break might have been madness.

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On the train from Brussels to Amsterdam

We chose to stay in a hostel south of the city center, only a twenty minute ride on the metro from Centraal Station. We were far enough away to get some peace and quiet when we needed it, but close enough to ensure that we did not miss out from making the most of our time there.

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The best thing about Amsterdam is that it is flat, like the rest of the Netherlands. While most people were cycling on the designated cycle paths, I enjoyed walking around the various districts, discovering interesting shops and views as I went along, not worring about climbing up steep hills for the first time in a long time. Sheffield is such a hilly city; it is one of its worst characteristics for those of us who live here without cars.

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The Van Gough Museum was a definite highlight (order tickets online if you wish to skip the long queue). Though, like I mentioned above, walking was the best way to see Amsterdam. The Jordaan District was beautiful and completely void of tourists during my visit. I found some great bargains in some of the city’s incredible Vintage shops by stumbling upon them at random. I ate the most delicious Indonesian food, which I must say hands down is the best meal I have had in a long time! Kam was ill for a few days of the trip though and she was not very appreciative of the food, or me dragging her around the shops!

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We hardly spent any time in the historical center. It is touristic to the point of excess, and that is where you will most definitely find some of the more negative stereptypes associated with the Dutch capital. Yet within only a ten minute walk down the road, it is easy to find cafés, restaurants and shops which offer a much more authentic (and affordable) experience, away from the crowds.

I would definitely return to Amsterdam. The food, culture and shops were all fantastic, and it was so relaxing to spend hours strolling along the canals, people-watching and admiring the distinctive architecture of the tall, thin canal houses.

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Sunday Snapshot: Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK

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Earlier last month, Kam and I went on a day trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakesphere. This was my first visit to the historic town, and although the weather was bleak, the rain kept off long enough for us to enjoy the outdoors.

Quaint, extremely touristic but worth the visit, Stratford is essential if you are interested in learning more about Shakesphere and what life was like ‘back then,’ all while marvelling at some stunning Tudor and Elizabethan architecture. It really is incredible to see that these buildings – complete with thatched roofs, precarious, creaking staircases and wooden beams – are still standing today.

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Anne Hathaway’s House

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Outside Anne Hathaway’s House

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Anne Hathaway’s House gardens

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Anne Hathaway’s House gardens

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Robyn Bobbing has won a Leibster Award!

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All my thanks goes towards Jordan from Global Debauchery for nominating me! The Liebster Award is awarded to bloggers by other award winners, in an effort to recognize up-and-coming talent in the blogging community. They are also an incentive to network, provide exposure and build a supportive online community.

Robyn Bobbing Around’s 11 Nominator Questions:

  • Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Robyn, I’m 21 and currently studying Modern Languages at unviersity in the UK. I like travel, yoga, sunny weather and I have a gorgeous black cat called Blackie.

  • What’s your blog about and why was it started?

My blog is predominantly a travel blog where I share my adventures around the UK and abroad. It originally started as a Year Abroad blog for a university outreach scheme but as the blog began to grow, I too began to grow so fond of it. I decided that I did not wish to part with it after the year was over, and here we are.

  • When were you officially bitten by the travel bug? What was the inspiration?

I don’t recall when it began, I have always had an interest in travel. When I was younger, my family and I mostly spent our summers on the Costa Blanca, where I would read a lot, swim and walk along the beach. They were very much relaxing holidays and cultivated within me a sense that Spain is a second-home, something I still feel today. Perhaps, the school trips arouund mainland Greece and to Rome really instilled upon me a desire to travel to historical and cultural centers, which is my main travel interest now. I have not had a beach holiday in 5 years, I just love cultural breaks.

  • What was your last trip? What was your favorite part?

My last trip was to Budapest at New Year. My favourite moment was seeing Die Fledamaus at the Opera. It’s so affordable to get great seats at the opera in Budapest, compared to what you can get for the same price in London.

  • Do you have any specific travel “goals?” If so, what are they?

Before I turn 30, I hope to step on the African continent (where to go first though?!), return to South America (Ecuador, Brazil at the top), go to Japan and travel a bit around India. I have more long term buck list destinations, but I will get there when I get there.

  • What’s your favorite part of traveling (culture, people, nature, etc.)? Why?

That’s a tricky one. My favourite part of traveling is definitely the culture; understanding how other people live, attempting to speak the language(s), and of course, eating the delicous cuisine. Still, the people I meet and spend the experience with can make it or break it -my Birthright Trip around Israel in 2014 is so memorable because of the people I spent it with. I love nature, and that is why Iceland is my number one destination, it has such outstanding natural beauty.

  • Any travel disasters? Please elaborate.

Luckily, I don’t think I have had any of them yet. Bad experiences? A fair few. Looking back on them now they’re quite amusing to recall, but they were far from it at the time. An interesting one would be when I was hiking the Salkantay Trek in Peru. I hadn’t acclimitased well to the high altitude as it was still the first day and within a few hours of hking, there I was, lying on the top of a mountain in South America with an oxygen mask over my face, while everyone else was sat having lunch. Not a great start, but I should add, that I did finish, so not a disaster – just the most physically challenging thing I have ever done.

  • Tell me about the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling.

I met a fascinating man when I was a a hostel in Porto last summer. He was a peregrino for the Camino de Santiago. He had spent the previous 8 weeks walking on several routes to Santiago (quite a long time). He then had walked from Santiago down to Porto. It was so interesting to learn about his experiences; how he tested his endurance, the people he met, how he was received by others on the road. The Camino in general is an amazing thing to do and it was the first time I had ever met a peregrino.

  • Have you ever had an epiphany on your travels? Do tell.

On my Year Abroad last year, I would often have the feeling of gratitude and amazement of how lucky I was to be living in such a beautiful part of the world at that given moment. However, whether that was gazing at the snow-capped mountains in Perpignan, marvelling at the beauty of the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca or admiring the views over Lisbon at one its many miradouros, I cannot tell you.

  • What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done while traveling?

Iceland has to win this. Snorkelling in the Silfra fissure between tectonic plates in 2°c water? Spectacular but my body did not appreciate the numbing sensation from such cold conditions. Hiking on a glacier in Skaftafell was exhilarating – looking down the crevasses to the dangerous abyss below…

  • What’s your next trip? What are you most looking forward to on it?

My next trip is in the next few weeks at Easter. I’m going to Amsterdam and Brussels with my housemate, Kam. Looking forward to seeing Brussels from a local’s perspective (Kam’s from there) and stocking up on lots and lots of delicious Belgian chocolate. Also, admiring the tulips at the Keukenhof Festival in the Netherlands.

Robyn Bobbing Around’s Nominees

Congratulations to my nominees! Please click around and visit their sites to support them.

Frogs Legs and Vodka Dregs

Andorin’a Travels

Saigon3

Charlotte’s Web

Joycelyn: Aspiring Grown Up

5903 miles

Robyn Bobbing Around’s 11 Nominee Questions:

Okay guys, your 11 questions are below. Enjoy and make the most of it. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s answers! Thanks for taking part.

  • Share an interesting fact about yourself.
  • What motivated you to start your blog?
  • If you were to receive an all-expense paid trip for you and a friend for two weeks, where would your first choice be and why?
  • What helps you to relax?
  • If you could be fluent in one other language in addition to the ones you already know, which would you choose and why?
  • Do you have some sort of bucket list (travel/life experiences/goals)? What are your top three?
  • Have you read a book that has been especially influential on you? Please tell.
  • What is the one thing about yourself that you’re most proud of and why?
  • What is one thing you can’t leave home without?
  • Is there a craft or hobby you would like to learn how to do?
  • Tell me where you are now and where you’re going next!

Happy blogging!

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French Play, Feb 2016: Sheffield, UK

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Deviating from my usual travel-related posts, this update is somewhat different. This week, I am performing in The Department of French’s very own Annual French Play. We have been rehearsing since November and it really is amazing to see it all finally come together, after much hard work and many post-rehearsal evenings spent in the pub. We are putting on Épisode de la vie d’un auteur (Jean Anouilh), a farce, best desribed as:

“A play in one act, this comedy is about an author confronted in turn with suspicions of his wife’s infidelity, a Romanian journalist, plumbers, telephone interruptions, his mother, an old army pal, a housing inspector and a love-sick, suicidal friend. His housemaid can’t stop crying and, despite his best efforts to remain calm, his world is collapsing around him.”

I will be playing La Dame, an insistant lady who keeps calling (badgering) the main character, asking for my first husband. Where is he? Will we ever find out..? But this is only a sub-plot of something much greater.

It really has been fantastic to be a part of the Cast again during my final year at Sheffield; to acquaint myself with another French play in depth, practice the old français outside of the classroom (always useful) and have a laugh.

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So, if you’re in Sheffield, what’re you waiting for?  See full details below:

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/210872902593809/

ÉPISODE DE LA VIE D’UN AUTEUR (Performed in French, English written synopsis provided). French and Non-French Speakers all welcome!

17th, 18th and 19th February 2016. Doors open at 7:00pm, curtains at 7:30pm.

Address: The Drama Studio, The University of Sheffield, Shearwood Rd, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S10 2TD.

Tickets: £5 each, with seat reservation.
Ticket Sales: Mon-Fri 12-2PM in the Jessop West Foyer.
For ticket reservations by email, contact:
d.mccallam@sheffield.ac.uk
j.dobson@sheffield.ac.uk

Venez nombreux/See you there!

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