Modern Day Berlin 

Berlin is remembered for its dark history during Hitler’s dictatorship and then during the cold war, but Berlin is now a vibrant city, full of life and welcoming to all walks of life. I still recommend visiting the historical sites, but once you have ticked them off your list, head over to the modern side of the city and experience the culture and atmosphere like no other.

Berlin Fernsehturm (TV tower), located right next to Alexanderplatz station symbolising the modern Berlin. Its €13 to ride the elevator to the top for views over the whole city.

 

There is a free walking tour that meets outside the Starbucks under the TV tower called the ‘Alternative Berlin’ tour. It departs every day at 11am and we booked on http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com the night before, but I think you could just show up and ask to join.

A quick note on the free tours, every tour is different and the tour guides don’t get paid so they rely heavily on tips, please be generous.

Street art is all over Berlin, you either love it or hate it, I absolutely loved it. There will be a lot of stops on your walking tour to point out the work of various famous street artists.

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During the 90’s East Berlin was mostly empty buildings, because when the wall came down everybody moved to the ‘nicer’ West Berlin. The empty buildings attracted artists, musicians, writers etc. who lived in the buildings without paying any rent, (illegally squatting). There are still a handful of buildings where the artists still live rent free, usually by agreement of the local government. One example is Haus Schwarzenberg, visitors are allowed into the courtyard and there is a small museum that you can enter free of charge. There is also Kunstraum Kreuzberg where there is a section open to visitors.

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The colourful east side gallery is the longest stretch of the wall still standing (just under a mile), the government have commissioned street artists to decorate the wall in cheerful colours, it’s really busy all year round but its free and one of the ‘must see’ attractions in Berlin. 

 

 
There’s a Treehouse just behind Baumhaus an der Mauer, where an old Turkish man lives. (I think he’s 96 at the time of writing). The man built his tree house himself with scraps of wood he found on the street, it’s on a tiny patch of land that once backed right onto the wall. When the wall came down, the local government wanted to knock it down to build a road from East Berlin to West Berlin, but the community came together and managed to save the man’s home. he still sits out on the porch waving to people passing by. A symbol of how strong the community in modern day Berlin can be.

Berlin has a buzzing night life and has something for everyone, from bouncing night clubs to high end restaurants to laid back beach bars.  

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I’m much more into the relaxed scene and stay away from clubs as much as possible, but everyone I’ve spoken to says that Berlin has some of the best clubs in the world. 

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We stayed in Friedrichshain which was perfect for a laid back cocktail. It didn’t seem like much was happening until you wander down the little side streets where some of the best places were hidden. If your in the area you must try the Thai restaurant Sala Thai, best red curry I’ve ever tasted. Also, Keyif cocktail bar was superb. 


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Click HERE to read our Essential Information post about Berlin.
 
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Click HERE to read our Historical Berlin post.

Cost and Useful Info – Berlin

Getting There: The flight from Newcastle (UK) is around 1 hour and 35 minutes, EasyJet fly regularly from loads of different cities in the UK. Our flights only cost £55/pp.

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Where To Stay: Arcadia Hotel Berlin, (only £40/night) right next to the Berlin Frankfurter Allee train station where you can take the S9 direct to the airport and opposite the underground, where the U5 is a short 7 minute journey to Alexanderplatz station in the city centre. The Arcadia is located in the Friedrichshain area which is quite and safe with a few nice restaurants and bars close by.

Getting Around: The main airport is SFX, about a 30-45 minute train ride from the city centre depending where you’re staying. A single ticket costs €3.40 or a day ticket which includes all the trams, busses and underground is €7.70. A single ticket for the underground is €2.80 and lasts 90 minutes, you can go as far as you want and change train as many times as you need to, all on the same ticket. They run regularly, cover the whole city and most lines are 24 hours.

Tours etc.: There are lots of ‘Free’ tours in Berlin, a quick google search will bring up a few different companies. I used http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com to book the classic Berlin tour and the alternative Berlin tour. The tours are free but the guides rely on tips to make a living, so be generous. See our ‘Berlin 3 day Itinerary’ for more details on the tours. Click HERE to read.

The river Spree is lined with dozens of boats trying to sell you a 1 hour tip, we chose the one which departed every 30 minutes from Moltkebrucke for €13/pp, but I got the impression that they were all similar prices and all follow the exact same route.

Food & Drink: The first thing I noticed is that water is expensive here, ranging from €1.80 to €3.00 for a normal size bottle. Food on the other hand is quite reasonable, for breakfast there were hundreds of bakeries selling croissants for less than €2.00. For lunch, there is a currywurst stall spread all over the city and you can buy one for less than €5. For dinner, a 2 course Italian meal for 2 people with wine cost us €40.



Visa: UK Passport holders do not currently need a visa to enter Germany.

Vaccinations: At the time of writing (June 2017) there are no vaccinations required.

Currency: The currency in Germany is Euro. It was really easy to find a cashpoint (ATM) and MasterCard is accepted in most places, even at underground (subway) stations.

£1 (GBP) = €1.14 (EUR)

£1 (USD) = €0.93 (EUR)

If you still have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below:
Thanks for reading

Ashleigh xx

Top 5 things to do in Lagos

1. Costal Walks – This was our favourite day of all in the Algarve, the costal walks that surround Lagos are remarkable. The hike was light intensity and perfect for beginners, there were a couple of steep bits and the track was overgrown with plants in some areas. It’s not suitable for people who have difficulty walking or for bike and pushchairs. At a very leisurely pace, stopping for photos and sandwiches, the hike took us about 3 and a half hours.

I’ve sketched a rough map below, but once you get to the starting point there is no way you can get lost, it’s one single track. We started west and travelled east and didn’t see a single person until about 2 hours into the trek. The closer we got to Lagos centre it began to get a bit crowded. (Especially at Ponta da Piedade.)

2. City Walls – They are surprisingly well preserved, it will take most people about an hour to circle the entire old town if you follow the walls. The town square is where most of the events are held, including Saturday morning exersize classes.

We were lucky enough to be in town during the ‘discovering of Lagos’ festival, held once a year on the last weekend in April. It was a medieval themed fair with regular stage shows and huge food market.


3. Go to the Beach – There are so many beautiful beaches surrounding Lagos, if you’re staying close to the old town then head up the coastal patch in search for a deserted section that will be your own private little beach for the day. If you’re willing to swim, (or just wade in up to the knees) then you can find some completely isolated places.

The beaches at Praia Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo are the most popular, the latter has a tunnel through the rocks to another cluster of tiny beaches, and we were lucky enough to get one of these to ourselves for a full morning.

If you’re on the other side of the river, the beach there is long and white, its surfers paradise and reminds me of a beach in Australia. Its miles long so it never feels busy or crowded.

4. Take a boat/kayak trip – the whole marina area is lined with stalls belonging to different companies trying to sell you a boat or kayak trip to the grottos. Ask for prices from a few different vendors before agreeing on a trip. From the water you will see a totally different perspective of the shore line.

Don’t forget to pack your waterproof camera. 

5. Hire a Bike – Inside the city isn’t very bike friendly, its cobbled streets and busy. However, once you get outside the city walls there is plenty to explore on by bike. We hired bikes in the old town, right next to the putting green for €10 each for 5 hours. There is a €50 deposit which you get back when you return the bikes.


The man working at the shop was really helpful and gave us a free map of the area and a few suggestions where to go.