Berlin (Germany)

Type : City Break
Best Date : May-September, November December
Expense :  Fair
Things to do : Sight seeing, Nightlife, Shopping , Christmas Markets
Points of Interest: Reichstag Building, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall Museum, Memorial of murdered Jews museum, Island of museums, Berlin Cathedral, Olympiastadion ect

Brief

Berlin is Germany’s capital city with a population of around 3.5 million people. Known for its turbulent past under the rule of the Nazi’s it was divided into two territories East Berlin which became the capital of East Germany and West Berlin. Other occupants of Berlin included the French, British, Russian and also the Americans. Since then divisions of the city and country have been taken down and the city is now soaring as a single unit.

The Place

Berlin was my first winter trip and the first of my yearly ‘Christmas Market’ getaways. I enjoyed the experience in the German capital which has given me the insight on why the tradition on the festive markets around Europe are so popular, hence promising myself to visit different Christmas markets yearly. Apart from their Christmas markets Berlin has many different attractions to visit. Just like London the German capital has many political buildings, churches, museums, parks and historical buildings which make the city popular.

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Firstly I believe Berlin is a huge attraction for its wartime memorials, monuments and buildings. The ‘Berlin wall’ and its museums give the city a huge commemoration of the tragedy that has happened in the region. ‘Charlie check point’ which was an entry point for western allies is a fascinating subject tourists flock to take a glimpse of wartime framework, although the historic significance of this cabin is huge however some visitors may be disappointed when they see only a small cabin shed in the middle of a busy street. Another place tourists visit for wartime reminiscence img-20170218-wa0011is the ‘memorial of murdered Jews or the ‘Holocaust memorial’ which we happen to just come across in my visit (unplanned). This memorial which looks like a huge cemetery is said that the numbers, shapes and architecture has no symbolic significance but the design representing a radical approach to a memorial. There are many more World War museums around Berlin in which are popular amongst visitors around the world.

Apart from World War memorials, there are many other historic buildings around the city that lights up the capitals appeal. One example which is in the heart of Beimg-20170218-wa0014rlin is the ‘Brandenburg Gate’ the city’s official emblem being one of the many gateways to the city. This gate has a beautiful bronze statue above named after a Roman goddess ‘Quadriga’ which means victory. Another monument in Berlin that tourists visit is the ‘Victory Coloumn’ which to me is a nice symbolic structure, but may need a little maintenance and protection from vandals as there are many holes (rocks thrown) and graffiti around this monument, nonetheless it is a place to visit in my opinion. Another historic building which is significant to Berlin is the ‘Reichstag’ which is has its own adversities in the past is now reinstated as a government building which is open to the public with a dome to see an elevated view of the city.

 

Despite Berlin having huge historic architectures, the city also have many modern structures and attractions for all kinds of tourists. One of the attraction I found amazing wimg-20170218-wa0003hich is would primarily be for the younger audiences is the ‘Berlin Sea Life’ attraction which unlike no other around the world has an iconic huge 82 feet cylindrical suspended aquarium, in which has an elevator inside for viewers. A modern building which overlooks Berlin, and can argue to be one of the cities cover attraction is the ‘Fernsehturm’ which is a television tower accessible for visitors for viewing or even for dining. Situated at one of Berlins prime location at ‘Alexadraplatz’ visiting the ‘Fernsehturm’ may cover the whole day hosting many shops, museums and attractions such as the ‘Berlin Dungeons’ which is also very entertaining. Another place to visit is called the ‘museum island’ which is a beautiful place with 5 different cultural museums, all with a ticket fee, but can be bought as a pack.

Lastly the ‘Christmas Markets’ in Berlin which make a fantastic experience on a winter visit to the city. Situated along many of the capitals Iconic areas such as ‘Alexandraplatz’. Please note these Christmas markets are not cheap and products and food are somewhat pricey. The best time to go is when dark so you can fell the full festive experience, with the lights and also shows are on at this time. In my opinion the best Christmas market in Berlin is the ‘Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market’ which is the poshest most expensive of all of the market with an entrance fee (cant remember how much). This market in my opinion has the best products and food with an indoor, outdoor section and a stage, which had a circus act when I was there.  The larger market was at ‘Alexandraplatz’ which was also the most scenic under the huge television tower. Within that market is complete with kids theme park and an ice skating ring, there is no entrance fee and the markets products and food is reasonably priced.  There are many more different markets which has its own characteristics but the two I have mentioned in my opinion are the best out of the lot.img-20170218-wa0005

In conclusion Berlin is a place I can highly recommend, moreover for a winter break. The German capital has a lot to offer whatever the purpose of travel, with its rich wartime history,  its culture, people, old and modern attractions..

 

 

Travelling Solo

Why everyone should travel alone at least once in their life?

I have now done my fair share of Solo travelling and although I admit it can sometimes be difficult, it is somewhat enjoyable as well. Ok my travels alone have only been around European and Philippine cities and have yet to try a more nomadic and backpacking type of experience, but travelling alone have the same hurdles and pleasure whatever the territory may be. I have encountered many people whether friends, families and colleagues who question the experience of travelling alone. Many feel they wouldn’t be able to survive, some say it wouldn’t be enjoyable, others feel too scared to try and many envisage loneliness whilst traveling. All I could say is “you wont know until you’ve tried”, I know many people including myself who wouldn’t even think of the idea of going away alone but for those who did really enjoyed it and appreciated the experience.

What stops people?

There is many reasons to why people are hesitant to travel alone many that are actually true (makes sense) and some just a state of mind. Most frequent reasons are:

  • Have got many people to go with, why travel alone?
  • Will get lost
  • Safety (especially for female travellers)
  • Boredom, no one to talk to
  • Nobody to take my pictures
  • Dining alone
  • and many more…

All the above are reasons I have heard from so many people in many occasions, non of the reasons are wrong, its just the way you look at it.

Firstly, why would you travel alone? Yes, why would you? if you have plenty people to go with, it doesn’t make sense. However in the current world many of us, our families and friends work, and we all know it is very difficult syncing leave (holiday) dates with each other, so there are times that the date you really want or prefer cannot be taken as you’ve got nobody to go with. Further more your friends and family may have no interest what so ever in a place you want to visit. Whatever the reason, there are times where you may be better off travelling alone but too ashamed to admit it. Travelling alone is nothing to be embarrassed about and more and more people are doing it across the world whether male or female, young and old.

Another main reason that people are resistant travelling alone is because of the social aspect. Simple reasons such as nobody to talk to, no-one to take photos, do activities or to dine with are expressed a lot as negatives to travelling by yourself. Many Solo travellers will tell you that these reason will only be true, if you let it be true. Travelling alone will encourage more interaction with strangers, some of which are solo travellers as well. There are increasing amount of young people who travel by themselves purposely to meet new people, they are everywhere and you can tell who are alone, usually lone travellers are very approachable.  After meeting new people it is then that you will have company to dine, do activities and much more. In conclusion, there is plenty of ways connecting with other travellers if you find yourself bored being alone, its just the way you act about it.

The only aspect of being companionless which I hate to admit is true, is the fact that it can be unsafe and make you vulnerable to theft. However this aspect can be true whether you are by yourself or not, vulnerability is just higher when alone, all you need is extra care and everything will be fine.

Why everyone should try travelling Solo?

Solo travelling is something you full heartedly want to do, not something that you have to do. However I do believe that everyone should travel alone at least once in in their life, to gain and appreciate the experience whether the outcome is positive or negative.

My personal reasons I think travelling alone is sometimes good are:

  • You get to visit places at your own time and pace
  • Do and eat whatever you want with no compromising
  • Meet new people
  • Learn and experience travelling independently
  • and many more

First reason I always tell people why they should try travelling alone is that “you go places at your own time and pace”, especially at airports I have noticed some individuals are early birds whilst others like to be there just at the right time. This is no difference to the holiday or travel itself, I have noticed that the larger the group the slower places are visited as breaks, rests and stopovers are more frequent, maybe its you who cant handle the pace or others that fall behind. So going at it alone, there will be nobody to wait for and you can stop whenever you want.

“No need to Compromise” is another reason to go alone. Everybody has to admit that travelling with others especially a big group has many positives but also has its problems. As every individual has different opinions, preferences and budgets, travel plans may need to be compromised for food, activities, transport and other arrangements. By yourself all plans and decisions are made by you and nobody else, there will be no regrets and “what if’s” should anything go wrong with the trip.

Another perk in travelling alone is the chance to “meet new people”. Although you can do so with companions, being alone increases self encouragement to go out and meet locals and other travellers to converse. This is overseen when within a big group, as friends and families are more inclined to stick together, with the exceptions of bars and clubs. In my opinion, it is easier to approach or even be approached when alone on your journey.

Inevitably travelling solo will increase your independence in many aspects such as location finding, money handling, conversing and others alike. You have to admit that in a group there will always be some more active and dominant, whilst others like to be the observant type and just follow the actions of their companions. Furthermore there will be the character that love to do the talking on the trip, another that likes doing the budgets and others take charge orienteering. When alone everything is left to yourself and whatever your weaknesses in travelling (eg, direction finding, conversing) will definitely improve as there is nobody to depend on.

In Conclusion there are both positives and negatives to travelling alone, for those who have done it admit hardship but always recommend it as it is a very unique experience. I personally believe everyone should try it if you are looking for an easy relaxing holiday wanting to learn about different countries and cultures, however for a more action packed party type holiday then go with companions. Ultimately nobody can force you to travel alone and only you decide whether you want to try it.

 

 

Bath

Type : Countryside
Best Date : (summer) July- August, (winter) December
Expense :  Medium
Things to do : Sightseeing, Christmas Markets
Points of Interest: Roman Bath, Bath Abbey, Royal Crescent, Pulteney Bridge, Jane Austen Centre, ect

Brief

Bath is a small provincial town in the countryside southwest of England. Known for being a settlement for the Romans, largely occupied by 18th century Georgians whos infrastructure still stand today, the town is currently being modernised with new buildings (keeping a traditional architecture) and now extensively being visited for shopping and dining. Other recognized aspects of Bath are its Rugby, various schools, literature and its natural hot springs.

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The Place

Bath is a growing modern English town that has its historic attractions, its main appeal is the ‘Roman Baths’ which is a well preserved public bathing area. Attractions such as the Royal Crescent, Pulteney Bridge, Jane Austen Centre and Bath Abbey are the other popular interests in the town. Although the Roman Era are mainly introduced as the prime pioneers, it is the stone Georgian buildings which surround the town, however newer modern buildings have been completed for new shop complexes and many other establishments. Bath also sit upon a wave of various beautiful parks and is parallel to the river Avon which in itself has dazzling views.

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The ‘Roman Baths’ is a sight to see, and I believe is a golden attraction for the country. The entrance fee is affordable, about £15-£25 for adults, about £10-£20 for seniors and students whilst children’s tickets costing £8-£18 depending on the season of visit, however there are also family and seasonal tickets as well. Tickets include entrance to the Baths, aDSC_7091n extensive museum exhibit, an audio phone and a free taste of the spring water which I can describe as an earthy weak sparkling water. Best time to visit are said to be in the morning as the lines are not too long and the building not too busy. Firstly upon entering the building you appear in some sort of ticket room where you either collect or buy your ticket, this takes a short 5 minutes and afterwards you collect an audio form and some leaflets. After that you proceed straight to the terrace view of the bath itself and with your portable audio roam at your own pace. The whole museum is on a structured one way route type system, which is good for crowd control and so you don’t miss a thing. Throughout the exhibition there are many different videos, artefacts and even actors re-enacting along the way. Apart from the hot spring bath the best thing for me was the head (mask) of the patron goddess ‘Sulis Minerva’ who was worshiped by the British-Romans at the location. The life sized bronze head which was only seen by high priests at the time, is probably the most valuable and highly preserved item they have. Around the route there ardsc_71121.jpge plenty to see and even many places to take photos and in the end you will be able to visit the Gift shop which quite surprisingly has many soaps and shampoos instead of gifts.

Another attraction in Bath is Pulteney Bridge and the views of the Avon river, there are many different views locations within this area to rest and enjoy the scenes, one area which was really good was ‘Bath Garden’ along the Grande parade road, there were many different art work and floral display, but the downside was that the garden itself had an entrance fee of £1.50 which although not much turned many tourists away.

Bath is also a great place for a city getaway with an exceptional shopping avenue which include modern chains and prestige market stalls. Bath is also one of not so many places which host Christmas markets in the which is not yet popular in the United Kingdom but increasingly popular around Europe around the festive season.

In conclusion Bath is a days visit and not an overnight trip. The village is very small and can be explored again and again in just a few hours. A definite place for tourists to visit even if it is just for a few hours. There are many tours which include this town as an itinerary and I believe people visiting the UK should plan a day excursion here.