Showing posts sorted by relevance for query berlin. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query berlin. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Berlin - A reunited city

If you are thinking of visiting an European metropolis, Berlin can be a good choice.
With a population of around 3.4 million it is not just the capital but also the largest city in Germany and it can offer almost anything you have ever wished for.

The second most famous wall on the planet (right after the Great Wall of China) can still be seen in the German capital.
Authorities sealed off free passage between East an West Berlin in mere two days in August of 1961 and started building the Wall which stood for the next 28 years until the army finally started dismantling it in November of 1989.
Even now there is an obvious difference between the two parts of once divided city.

Whether you are on a tight budget, or you are looking for a luxury destination - Berlin can offer you both and everything in between.

There is no true top season for a visit. During every time of year Berlin has something to offer. Most of many festivals and other outdoor activities take place in warmer months, but even during winter (when temperatures can drop way below zero) there are many cute stalls offering Glühwine and Schnapps set up all over the city. These stalls really add-up to the whole December holiday spirit feel. Streets literally look like they were taken from a cheesy movie, with cheesy Christmas carols playing in the background and loads of useless souvenirs on offer.
Don't get me wrong, I actually liked the whole thing. Everything else would have looked out of place.

Recently an opportunity to visit this interesting city arose and I took it. Last December I decided to join a group of friends visiting Berlin. Obviously it was the right decision.

It was a five-day budget trip. We stayed in a very nice and clean hostel for a very reasonable price. It is called EastSeven Hostel and is situated at a great location. I would easily recommend it to anyone looking for such an option.
We simply tried to enjoy ourselves while there. I must say we succeeded in doing just that. Berlin is definitely a place I could definitely visit again.

Stay tuned for more!


Friday, 25 March 2011

What to eat and drink in Berlin?

Almost everywhere I go I first try some traditional local cuisine. I like good food, but usually I'm on a tight budget so I have to make some compromises.

In most cases locals know where to point you to if you explain what you are looking for. Good food guides are usually also a safe bet.

In Berlin we took that approach only one time - when we were looking for some decent local restaurant with traditional food.
From the praise of everyone we asked, we expected something really special. Well it wasn't. Don't get me wrong... it was OK, but still far from delicious. Traditional dishes mostly consist of pork and sausages in countless variations and are usually offered with cabbage and potato.

Every other place we eat at was chosen by lucky chance and all were excellent.
We tried Vietnamese, Italian and Turkish cuisine. If you like to try something new, you can find almost everything in Berlin.
Of the places I have visited so far, only London had such variety.

If you want to eat for a few Euros, there is a fast food restaurants almost on every corner. Most of them are Turkish kebab places. In some quarters of Berlin they are situated literary one next to another down the whole length of the street. Along with that nicely goes a glass of beer.
I was surprised how cheap actually beer was. A half litre bottle was usually between €2 and €4, but during happy hour in our hostel we drank it for only a Euro and those were not some no name beers, but brands like Augustiner beer and Erdinger Beer

The thing Germans know well is definitely beer. They know how to brew it and they also know how to drink it - a lot of it. Every year they drink 110 litres (that's 29 US gallons!) of beer per capita.

Berlin also offers a lot to those who like to enjoy themselves no matter the price. Everyone can get a taste of luxury and treats himself with a cup of coffee overlooking the largest German city. You can do that on the top of the Berlin TV Tower (Fernsehturm). The elevator ride to the revolving restaurant near the top of the 365 meter high 'toothpick' will cost you 5 Euro which is probably still better then the 986 stair alternative.
Tempting three-course meals at the highest restaurant in the city start at 27 Euros or splash out on a Büfett from 42 Euros per person.

You want it Berlin has got it! An authentic kebab for a couple of Euros next to the subway entrance or a posh dinner in the sky for a little bit more... the choice is yours.


Monday, 21 March 2011

Berlin Highlights

There are so many things worth seeing in Berlin, I am just going to focus on the things I saw myself.

The Berlin Wall (Die Berliner Mauer)
The Wall together with the most tourist landmark - Checkpoint Charlie and the museums on this topic are definitely things worth visiting. If you are into such things you can even acquire a visa allowing free passage through the checkpoint to the other side and also buy a peace of the famous wall to take home with you. Both are available at rather high prices.
Even after seeing it in person one can only begin to imagine how it looked back then when the Wall was still performing its task. A few sections are still standing today. For a more genuine impression I recommend you check out one of the non centrally located sections of it.

Museums and Galleries
There are countless museums opened around the city. One can easily find at least a couple to his liking. Of those visited I just have to point out the DDR Museum and the Deutches Technikmuseum.
Both of these two house a vast number of expositions and if you want to pay any attention to detail, you should reserve at least half a day for each one of them. Even then I suggest you make a list of what to see first. If you don't run out of time, your feet might let you down in the process.
Both museums offer a highly interactive experience to their guests. I must say they do a great job!

Nightlife, Club Scene and Festivals
Berlin offers a great variety of socializing opportunities. I had a feeling there is always a club opened nearby. Many of them are building their reputation on some kind of a weird or even bizarre offer. In some cases their reputation is based on their setting inside some old power plant or something like that, in other cases it is all about the happening.
It is always worth asking around for something of your liking. Bizarre does not necessarily go together with enjoyable!
If you find the right club and enough energy, it might just happen you start the party late in the afternoon and don't stop until one next day... and by one I mean one o'clock in the afternoon!
In the warmer months many festivals also take place in the opened. Love Parade is probably the most famous of the bunch.

City ZOO and Aquarium
Zoologischer Garten Berlin houses the most diverse range of species in the world. Among its inhabitants is also the captive-born celebrity polar bear Knut.
Although the ZOO itself is still just a big cage it is well worth visiting if this is your thing. However if you have a choice, you should perhaps not plan a visit in winter time. During other seasons you will be able to see more animals out in the open.
A large city aquarium also features the AquaDom - the World’s Largest Cylindrical Aquarium. At 25 meters tall, and 11 meters wide, it is the largest acrylic glass cylinder in the world and contains 900,000 litres of sea water. Divers jump in every day to clean it and to feed the 56 different species of fish living inside.

Glühwein stalls
However cold it might get during winter in Berlin, it always feels good to warm up with a cup of mulled wine (yes, that's Glühwein if you were wondering).
Usually there is also a sausage stand nearby offering many variations of this traditional German food.

I guess I should also mention some other things... but this time I will leave it to you. So please point out some of the highlights you liked the most.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Celebrity polar bear Knut has died

I didn't know about this, until one of my readers pointed it out in her response to my article about many attractions Berlin has to offer.

Knut became popular soon after his mother rejected him. He was adopted by his main caregiver, Thomas Doerflein. Ever since many visitors kept returning to the ZOO just to see this cutie of a bear.
The celebrity of Berlin ZOO died on Saturday afternoon (19th of March) in front of hundreds of visitors. Witnesses reported that after the bear's left leg began shaking, he walked around in circles before falling into the water.

Even with one of Berlin's attractions gone, the capital of Germany has a lot to offer.


Friday, 18 January 2013

A Window into Ocean Life

For ocean-life enthusiasts there is definitely a thing worth checking out when near the capital of Portugal. Lisbon Oceanarium (Oceanário de Lisboa) is actually one of the most popular Lisbon's tourist attractions.

I have visited a few Aquariums around the world before, but the Lisbon Oceanarium has left the biggest impression so far. After all it is supposed to be the largest indoor aquarium in Europe.
I visited the Berlin Aquarium a year ago, featuring the AquaDom - the World’s Largest Cylindrical Aquarium. You can read a little something about that trip and the aquarium in one of these posts.

The Oceanarium is located in the NE part of the city, near the Parque das Nações (you can check out the map here). You can easily get there by city metro (you will have to walk the last few hundred meters) or using other means of transport.

Besides a large permanent setup there is usually also an additional temporary exhibit - during my visit it was dedicated to turtles. In all parts of the large building an environmental note was always present. This is especially great for educational purposes since there are many young visitors.

There are four water-tanks placed around the large central tank, each housing a different habitat. The idea is to have a separate water tank representing wildlife from world's four different oceans (North Atlantic, Antarctic sea, Pacific and Tropical Indian ocean).

One of the most interesting species there is definitely sunfish, rarely seen in aquarium environment. Also very popular with visitors of all age is a pair of playful sea otters (Eusébio and Amália). In total there are 450 species represented by about 16,000 individual animals.

Apart from various marine species there are also some other animals housed there, for instance quite a few species of jungle frogs.

The entrance fee is quite high but in my opinion still worth it (if I remember correctly it was 16 euros). Family tickets with discounts are also available. You should reserve enough time for this - if you take it easy it might take you most of the afternoon to see it all. The Oceanarium is open 10:00 - 19:00.


Monday, 15 October 2012

How to escape bad weather?

Many of my faithful readers know I live in Slovenia. When people hear about it for the first time many imagine a cold country somewhere in the the middle of former Soviet Union.

In fact it is a small country in the very middle of Europe. Slovenia is tucked among its larger neighbors: Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. As with some other things, it also seems like this little diverse county adopted some climate characteristics from every one of those neighboring countries.

No matter how sunny and hot it might get during the summer on that little stretch of Slovenia's Adriatic coast, the hills get freaking cold during the winter months. It is not unusual for temperatures to drop below 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) for a week or two in January or February.

As much as I love skiing and the book&TV series where they keep repeating that "winter is coming", I am not too fond of cold, cold winter. That said it should be obvious I try to escape damp, cold weather every winter for at least a week or so.
This year I am already planing an escape trip to Portugal - more specifically Lisbon.
As we are expecting temperatures around zero Centigrade and below at the end of November in Slovenia, we are looking forward to 15 degrees and hopefully less rain in Lisbon. I hope everything works out.

This time we are going as a group of 7 friends. I wish it would turn out to be very much like two years ago when we visited Berlin. Well, actually I am hoping for a little less snow and a lot more sunshine.

Airplane tickets and hostel rooms are already booked. So far it seems like this is going to be a very affordable trip. Both - low budget airline tickets and 4 days of hostel expenses added up to under 130 EUR per person. A bargain if you ask me!

A friend living in UK also wanted to join us but something else came up - he will be going on a Maldives Holiday instead. He found a really good deal through an online flight search engine. It searches for flights from UK to all parts of the world and includes both budget and conventional airlines - a very useful tool indeed.

Nowadays it is not all that hard to get a good deal for a flight. Since we won't be flying from UK we could not use the handy search tool mentioned above, but in the end we found very affordable EasyJet tickets from Venice to Lisbon.
I am really looking forward to this trip. This year I can hardly wait for the cold to come... Just to get away from it for a while, of course.


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Berlin in Snow

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