Historical Berlin 

Berlin has a long and turbulent history, if you’re a history geek or not interested at all, it’s impossible to visit Berlin and not be reminded of what has happened here, I have listed some of my ‘must see’ attractions below. 

Brandenburg Tor (Gate), probably the most iconic view of Berlin, this used to be the official entrance to Berlin used by the Royal family. Now a meeting point for most tours. There is a free tour every day at 10am and 11am which leaves from the Starbucks opposite. There’s no need to book, just show up, if there are too many people for one tour then they just divide you up into groups.

Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, we spent about 15 minutes here on the free walking but we made a special effort to return here and spend longer, the artist who designed the memorial never announced what it was or what it was supposed to represent, he wasn’t visitors to really think about the different possible meanings and make up their own opinion.

Topography or Terror, one of the few pieces of the Berlin wall still standing, it’s been kept in its original state and is open to the public, there is a free museum next to the piece of wall which is open every day.

Gendarmenmarkt, a historical market square, the French cathedral is at one end and the German cathedral is at the other end. The French cathedral was a huge statement when it was first built, it was one of the first (if not the first) foreign church to be built in Germany, signalling that French migrants were welcome in Berlin.

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Berlin Dom (Cathedral), located on museum island and probably my favourite building in all of Berlin and we didn’t even need to go inside to appreciate its beauty. If I ever visit Berlin again then I will make time to see inside the cathedral for sure.

The memorial for the May 10th 1933 book burning opposite the university library. All books written by Jews, homosexuals, non-German authors etc. were burned on this spot in 1933. Now the memorial is an underground library with only bare shelves. There is a glass platform above ground to allow visitors a view of the memorial. Students sill line up outside the university every day selling second hand books to raise funds for charity as a direct response to the universities dark history. 

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

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Click HERE to read our Essential Information post about Berlin.

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Click HERE to read our Modern Day Berlin post.

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Mini tour of Italy 

I’m heading to Milan with the girls in a few days’ time and it got me thinking about an amazing trip I took to Italy with Sean last year, we saw so much in just 9 days, it was before my blogging days but I still wanted to write a quick summary of our trip.

There isn’t any daily flights from Newcastle to Rome and we couldn’t change our time off work to suit EasyJet’s timetable, which ended up as a blessing, it inspired a mini tour of North West Italy because we had to fly into Pisa and out of Rome.

We were there the first week in May and we were really lucky with the weather. This was our itinerary:

First stop Pisa, landing at lunchtime and leaving the next afternoon, 24 hours really was the perfect amount of time to stay here. We stayed at the Hotel Terminus and Plaza because of how close it was to the train station and it was walking distance to everything else. The taxi to our city centre hotel cost only €8, or if you’re really tight on budget you can take a train.

I pre-booked tickets online to claim to the top of the famous leaning tower (It was really busy so I recommend booking online before you go), we were given a dedicated time slot so didn’t need to wait in line. You do need to leave all bags in a locker at the foot of the tower for security reasons, which we didn’t mind, better safe than sorry!

 

Other than the tower and the main square, we basically wandered from Gelato shop to Gelato shop!

We took a 45 minute train journey to La Spezia, (all train tickets booked on the GoEuro.com app) where we spent 4 nights bed and breakfast at the Affittacamere La Loggia De Banchi hotel. Honestly, I only chose to stay in La Spezia because the hotels in nearby Cinque Terre were so expensive, and I’m so glad we did stay here, it’s the most beautiful place I have ever been, the landscapes aren’t quite as dramatic at its neighbours but it’s the only place I could ever imagine us actually living.


We took two day trips to the Cinque Terre, only about 15 minutes on the train which runs frequently throughout the day. If you haven’t heard of the Cinque Terre before, it’s basically 5 small villages built along the coastline, they are all connected by hiking trails of various lengths and fitness levels. The villages are adorable and traditionally Italian, and the trails offer some of the best scenery in the world. A quick google search will give you hundreds of reviews and more in depth itineraries.


 We also took a day trip to the town of Portovenere, there is an hourly boat from the main harbour at La Spezia, return tickets were €20/pp, and takes around 30-40 minutes. The castle ruins are the perfect place to take photographs and the whole town has a really relaxed feeling. We missed two boats back to La Spezia sitting outside drinking the classic Aperol Spritz.

 

From La Spezia there was a 3 hour train journey to Rome, where we stayed at the Hotel Terminal for 3 nights, we spent the first night getting intentionally lost and people watching. The rest of our time was taken up with all the history stuff, I was in my absolute element learning as much as I could.

 

Sean discovered Suppli (deep fried pasta and tomato with cheese in a breadcrumb coating) for the first time, and ate it every chance we got in Rome, the best was at I Suppli on Via di S. Francesco a Ripa, it was abit out the way but had been recommended to us and was well worth the walk.


We took the train back to the airport and both agreed that Italy was one of our top 5 trips ever!

Thanks for reading xx

PS. More posts with a lot more detail on my upcoming trip to Milan and Venice coming soon.