Monday, 25 February 2013

And now for something a little different...Berlin

Now here at What's your tale, Nightingale? travel blogs aren't really our thing. We normally waffle on about vintage dittys and show you pictures of lobsters fighting, but our head honcho has recently got back from a weekend away and hasn't stopped raving about it. So we've decided to give her a soap box for her raving and here she is to let you all know how fabulous Berlin is.



Me and my chap wanted to do something a bit different for our 3rd anniversary and Berlin was where our fingers landed when we span our globe. Chap is into dance music and street art and I'm into history and flea markets so it ticked all of our boxes.

We flew with EasyJet (which now has allocated seats for no extra cost, don't you know) in the early hours of a Friday morning and got back Monday evening. However if you are thinking of a trip, we heard on the grapevine that it's better to stay on a Thursday, as that's the night galleries normally have openings shows so you might be able to sneak some free nibbles and drinks. Also, Berlin’s state museums are free for the last four hours (6-10 pm) on Thursday evenings.



Poor is sexy in Berlin but only if you are smart. Like most places, we found the touristy areas charged quite a bit more than the ones off the beaten track. My tip is try and eat on the East side, we found food much cheaper there, say 3-4 each, than in the trendy tourist areas of the West side which was coming out at 12-15 per person. Same goes for staying as well, our apartment (which was fantastic, have a look www.only-apartments.com/en/berlin/PRETTYCENTRAL_15120) was on the east side and the shops around it were reasonably priced for us to get a light snack of cats tongues (Chocolate of course) 




Talking of food, Berlin has a couple of traditions you need to try. It might not seem so in the UK, but in Berlin the Kebab is a health food. There are relatively cheap, about 3 a time, filling and certainly smell a lot nicer than any you get in the early hours of the morning here, Chap recommends picking one up :) And they even cater for us vegetarians with lovely hallumi or falafal. The other tradition is less vegetarian friendly but you really can't go to Berlin without trying the currywurst. It is essentially a steamed and then fried chopped pork sausage covered in a curry ketchup and they love it, it's even got it's own museum. www.currywurstmuseum.com/en/ Well worth a nibble.




Now we didn't just spend our whole trip stuffing our faces, we also got to see some great parts of Berlin off the beaten track with a Alternative Berlin tour http://alternativeberlin.com/subculture-berlin-free-tour It took us to some fantastic squats and graffiti areas we just wouldn't have found without them. Our tour guide was great and kept us all perky and moving in -10 (maybe don't go to Berlin on the coldest weekend of the year) and was full of brilliant facts. It lasts for about 3 hours and you'll need an AB metro ticket and I promise you won't be disappointed. In the summer they take you to impromptu raves and flea markets and the best bit about it is, it's free! Well, tip based, you give the guide what you think the tour was worth, so you can see fantastic parts of Berlin without bankrupting yourself (poor is sexy remember)

One of the places our guide took us to was the Raw Tempel www.raw-tempel.de/ziele.html, just a stones throw from the Warschauer Strasse metro stop. It is an open space used by a group of creatives whose aim is to promote the cool parts of Berlin culture. It has clubs, indoor and outdoor, a Veggie/Vegan cafe which we turned up too early to try it for ourselves, the largest indoor skate park in Europe and some of the coolest art and graffiti I have ever seen. I can imagine in the summer it is buzzing and well worth a visit if your into anything alternative. 

Raw also had just outside its gates a Photoautomat which is the perfect place to get a cheap souvenir of Berlin. These black and white photo booths allow you to have 4 different photos and normally cost less than 3. Just be warned, the first photo is taken quick and it takes about 5 minutes for the pictures to process :) www.photoautomat.de/standorte.html




You might have noticed, I've got nearly all the way through this blog without mentioning the touristy bits. We did do them and would definitely recommend you do to, the eerie-ness of the Holocaust memorial and the significance of the wall are something you have to experience but other blogs have described these well before me so I'll leave it up to them to fill you in on the must see's of Berlin www.timeout.com/berlin/features/11/20-great-things-to-do-in-berlin




There are a ton of other places I could mention, but I don't want to overload you with a mass of information so I will end it with a few lists of places we wished we'd seen and websites we found useful and hopefully a curiosity to go visit Germany's capital!

Places we wish we have visited but we ran out of time.
Allied Museum - this tells the story of the end of the second world war to the fall of the war and looks really good, it has the guardhouse from Checkpoint Charlie and a section of the Berlin spy tunnel. Free www.alliiertenmuseum.de/en/home.html

Berghain - This is one of the coolest clubs in Berlin with a very interesting door policy, definitely worth a visit if your a dance bunny. http://berghain.de/

YAAM - We did have a little look in here at the end of our tour but didn't get chance to pop back but from what I saw and heard, this will be a perfect way to spend a summer evening with a rum and a bit of reggae. www.yaam.de/

Flea Markets - There are loads of these dotted around Berlin, we saw a few but didn't have a good rummage due to frozen fingers and jaws but I hear that is a brilliant one at the Arena, see website for more details www.arena-berlin.de/

Useful websites
http://www.wanderlust.co.uk/planatrip/inspire-me/lists/free-budget-berlin-germany?page=all

This blog falls into our On Your Bike series which is all about adventures whether it's out on your bike, a vintage train day or even a themed day. It also has bike maintenance, hair styles for your adventures and more. Find out more about this series and our others at on our Overview blog or find more in the same series by pressing the "On Your Bike" tab at the top of the page.