I’m really going to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia & Finland, so don’t look at me like that. I’m not mad!

As lovely as in Prague!
As lovely as in Prague!

That time is soon approaching when I will be on the road again.

It’s so exciting!

You know, thinking about where to go on the map, planning it and then checking it’s still possible the way you thought it was.

Of course, it’s possible you say.

Really?

Did you know that if you wanted to get to parts of Wales from other parts of Wales using public transport, the easiest way, would be to go back into England or take the ferry coming from Ireland?!

I know this, because we’ve done this!

VB34130770We ended up flying into Bristol. In England.

From Berlin. In Germany.

Spending a night. In Bristol. In England.

And then taking a train from Bristol. In England.

To Cardiff. In Wales.

And then picking up a car.

In Wales.

One day, I might just tell you the full story……..!

The Welsh flag on Conwy Castle, Wales.
The Welsh flag on Conwy Castle, Wales.

As you might have noticed unless we’re in America or the backwaters of the Welsh countryside, we don’t tend to use the car.

  • Because I don’t drive. What! Shock & Awe!?$§!! Yeah, I bought a car when I was living in London, and used all my friends as my own personal driver. What can I say? I’m fancy!
  • My husband – The Music Producer – doesn’t really like driving unless he has to. And in America, his medieval hometown of Osnabrück, in Wales. He had to. Alone!
  • I like flying.
  • I love the train.
  • I’m one of those freaks who loves long-distance coach-bus journeys ‘cos I can get comfortable, cross my legs, and read!
  • I love reading.
  • I like looking through the window and watching the countries and landscapes change. You should see the changes from Germany to Holland, Belgium & France. It’s so obvious that you’re in a totally different country.
  • I’m lazy.
  • Using public transport is far better for the environment than using a car.
  • The good old honest truth. Well, you can take as much luggage as you like and you don’t really have to worry about how much it weighs!
Lux Express.
Lux Express.

My husband gulped a bit and his lovely green eyes got even greener when I told him that not only were we going to the “other” Eastern Europe otherwise known as The Baltics, but we were going by long-distance coach-bus from country to country!

I’m a determined woman and normally get what I want so with the part-sponsorship of the largest international express route coach operator in the Baltic region, an Estonian company called Lux Express, we are indeed going through the Baltic Region by road from Germany, all the way through to Estonia, and back again!

Sailing away! Photo @AS Tallink Grupp
Sailing away!
Photo @AS Tallink Grupp

We are also going to be taking to the waters by sailing across to Finland, with the sponsorship of TALLINK SLJA LINE. TALLINK is an Estonian shipping company currently operating Baltic Sea cruise ferries and ships from Estonia to Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Germany. We will be sailing with them from Estonia to Finland and back to Estonia.

However, I love my husband, and he’s not standing for total madness so while “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I saunter on, he’s flying back after a week with airBaltic!

In Kurdistan at the ITB 2015.
In Kurdistan at the ITB 2015.

I have been to 48 countries with 4 new countries coming up. Many of these countries I have been to over and over again.

Why?

Simply because I like them.

I’m strong-minded. Just because I’ve been there doesn’t mean that I can’t go back there again.

Returning to Rokytnice nad Jizerou in the Czech Republic.  Because I'm worth it!
Returning to Rokytnice nad Jizerou in the Czech Republic. Because I’m worth it!

I do go back.

Again and again.

It’s never ever boring. Only different.

And for me, travelling is my pleasure not my work. My blog represents the business of me – The British Berliner – but everything I do and everywhere I go, is for my own and complete and utter pleasure!

Remember how I told you a fortnight ago that this blog was about ME.

It is.

Therefore, if I choose to go to Milan although I’ve been there five (5) times before, it’s because I want to.

I love Italy by the way.

A yummy shrimp roll from #WeAreInPuglia!
A yummy shrimp roll from #WeAreInPuglia!

Same goes with the way I travel.

Sure, I could probably fly for €50.00, but where’s the fun and adventure in that?

Live a little!

As much as I love travelling to my favourite regions of the world, one of the most interesting things about the Baltic Region is that I’ve never been there before. It’s going to be nice to go to a country with my family that is as new to them as it is as new to me.

Yikes!

So let’s have a closer look at the four (4) lovely countries that I’m going to.

WHY THE BALTICS?

Harmony of the countryside in Latvia.  Photo@ Arturs Jasinskis
Harmony of the countryside in Latvia.
Photo@ Arturs Jasinskis

The Baltic States might be small in landmass but the countries are considered to be old European in look, rich culture, enchanting history, old tradition. In fact, quite charming! In the last 6 years alone Vilnius, Riga & Tallinn were proudly inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the wonder that is their unique architecture in their “old towns” and also as European Capitals of Culture designed to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe and increase the sense of belonging to our common cultural area that is the European Union not only in 2009 and 2011, but also in 2014!

In 2015, it will be in Plzen, a city in one of my favourite countries, the Czech Republic.

LITHUANIA

©2012-2015 onelung
©2012-2015 onelung

Let’s be honest. How many of you have ever heard of Lithuania?

Thought so!

I’ll try my best to explain some history:

Lithuania is in the European Union and was part of the EU Enlargement in 2004, but is still a country that has yet to be discovered. It’s official name is the Republic of Lithuania.

Europe is fantastically diverse and enormously blended as a result, both the Lithuanians and Latvians are Balts by ethnic and linguistic origin and although separate independent countries, have closely related languages. Not only that, but Lithuania’s former capital was called Trakai and was the religious centre of the Lithuanian Karaites who were of Turkish origin, but also happened to be Jewish.

Vakaras-Vilniaus-senamiestyjeLithuania was an independent state as far back as the 13th century, joined into a union with Poland in the 14th century, became a part of Prussia in the 18th century, forcibly became a part of the former USSR in 1940, established re-independence in 1991, and became both a member of NATO and the EU in 2004.

Phew!

The European Flag.
The European Flag.

It’s a small country with less than 3 million people living there and on the 1st January, 2015, became the 19th EU member state to adopt the Euro as its national currency.

We’re proud of Lithuania!

it’s still early days and if you’re in the Lithuanian countryside, it’s likely that they weren’t invited to the ceremony so just in case: 1 Lithuanian Litas (LTL) is worth about €0.29 or $0.31!

VILNIUS

VilniusHomeVilnius is the capital of Lithuania, one of the largest old cities in Europe, and is covered by countless churches. In fact, 65! It might have a population of only just half a million people, but all that history makes up for it!

Vilnius is a medieval cosmopolitan city known as “the Jerusalem of Lithuania” because of its strong Jewish past until WWII, “Little Rome” and “North Athens.” It’s also a treasure-trove of Baroque craftsmanship and a valuable and historical site of not only Baroque, but also Gothic, Renaissance, and other architectural styles.

I can’t tell you everything that we’re going to do as we’re not there yet, are we?

Laughing, smiling, and eating in Bangkok.
Laughing, smiling, and eating in Bangkok.

All I can tell you is that we’re absolutely going to go on a walking tour to get our bearings as you know that I love them so much having gone on a walking tour in Edinburgh, a walking tour in London, a walking tour in Bangkok, and an alternative walking tour in Berlin!

I’m thinking of going with the Vilnius With Locals walking tour. It’s a free walking tour and you tip whatever you think it is worth.

We’re only going to be there for three (3) days so this will be a sloooooow cultural family trip. We’ll check out some of the lovely churches and places of worship which are just bursting to be visited, we’ll pay our respects in the Jewish Quarter, we’ll ramble along the cobbled historical streets, and we’ll be trying out and tasting not only the tasteful Lithuanian cuisine but also checking out the Lithuanian soup, dumplings, and dessert, as well as Lithuanian beer and vodka!

VilniusHome18We’ll be staying at a small family Bed and Breakfast consisting of just seven (7) rooms, and located between the Old Town and a park. This B&B is called Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast and we’ll be in the Family Room.

Most importantly, there’ll be free WiFi, space to dump all our stuff after our long weary journey, and free breakfast. Everything a family with a young teenager needs!

Yipee!

LATVIA

Latvia.Latvia, also known as the pearl of the Baltic States and officially as the Republic of Latvia, is situated in the Baltic Region of Northern Europe – on the shores of the Baltic Sea. I like the Baltic Sea and I’ve written about it before albeit from the Polish side!

Latvia is a multi-cultured state and right in the middle of Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia and Russia! As the Lithuanians, the Latvians are Balts by ethnic and linguistic origin and although separate independent countries, have closely related languages. The Latvians also have indigenous people called Livs and the two neighbouring countries both speak an Indo-European language and are the only two true Baltic languages that have survived.

Happily, all the traditions have merged together creating a unique environment, a vast cultural historical heritage.and a country-state of about 2 million people.

Latvia, is also a country not well-known and even within the E.U. itself, many Europeans have a hard time remembering what the capital city is.

It’s Riga by the way!

lncc15_song_and_dance_festival2013_latvian_national_centre_for_culturexHere’s some history:

Although under various forms of foreign rule and invasion from the 13th to the 20th century, the Latvian people were able to hold onto their history and identity via their own unique language and musical traditions. The Republic of Latvia came into existence in 1918 but due to the WWII and the forcible incorporation into the then USSR, lost its independence. The famous Singing Revolutions of the Latvian people (a bit like the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music) helped to motivate the people and independence was once again declared in 1991. Latvia became a member of NATO and the EU in 2004, was declared a “high income” country, and the Latvian lats replaced with the Euro as its national currency on the 1st of January, 2014.

RIGA

A European Capital of Culture.
A European Capital of Culture.

We will be going to Riga which is the capital city, the largest city in the Baltic State Region, and also not only on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its unique architecture in the “old town,” but was also one of the European Capitals of Culture designed to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe, and increase the sense of belonging to our common cultural area that is the European Union, in 2014!

You might not have ever heard of Latvia, but are you sure you haven’t heard or seen pictures of Riga?

institute_of_latvia_aleksandrs_kendenkovsRiga is an elegant old European town nourished by Russian glamour and elegant Art Nouveau boulevards! It’s a metropolis pulsing with life, romantic walks and live music and celebration. It’s a medieval city that has been preserved and still shows traces of its religious and Romanesque past.

Do you recognise Riga now?

Art Nouveau in Riga.
Art Nouveau in Riga.

We’ll only be in Riga for three (3) days and thereafter, The Music Producer will depart and fly back to Berlin so that “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I will continue the rest of our Baltic cultural adventure together. There’s a lot to see in Riga so we’ll probably go on another walking tour such as the Yellow Riga Free Tour. I understand that it’s supported by the European Community programme Youth in Action, so why not. Right!? It’s an alternative free walking tour and goes outside the Old Town. Tip whatever you think it’s worth.

Of course, we’ll also check out the lovely Old Town itself. It looks gorgeous and perhaps also the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum. I quite like the sound of learning about the history and cultural background of a people. The rambling along the cobbled historical streets continues and of course, we’ll be trying out and tasting rustic Latvian soup, chops, and cheese topped off with Latvian beer, vodka and Riga Black Balsam!

History at Hotel Justus.
History at Hotel Justus.

We will be staying at a four-star boutique hotel in the heart of the old town of Riga. The hotel is called Hotel Justus. Hotel Justus lies right within the architectural UNESCO protected area, was a Bishop’s residence in 1210, was part of a tavern in the 20th century and has just 48 rooms designed to embrace the architectural charm and historical delight of Riga. We’ll be in the Family Suite which will have two separate bedrooms and a joint bathroom.

You cannot believe how nice it is to sometimes have separate but joint bedrooms when your child is still young, but very tall. In Poland, our B&B was lovely and quaint but my sons’ arms and legs were all over the place on our East European double bed, so I spent most of our holiday sleeping on the floor!

"The Tall Young Gentleman"
“The Tall Young Gentleman”

You cannot believe how many times we have tried to explain that even though he is a child, he isn’t a child-child. And in Asia, explaining proved to be too difficult so we just said he was a young adult since he was taller than most grown up men, and in Hong Kong, so was I LOL! We either booked a superior room in Bangkok, a wooden chalet in Chiang Mai, or went all out and rented a house in Bali.

Our son was 13 years old just last Sunday but looks like a 15 year old boy! The photograph above was taken just two years ago!

Once again, the most important factor for a couple and a young teenager is location (we’re right in the UNESCO centre.) Yay! History will come alive ‘cos we’ll be sleeping in it! Free WiFi, a flat screen TV, and a generous breakfast.

I’m pretty ecstatic!

Pelmeni served with sour cream in Latvia.
Pelmeni served with sour cream in Latvia.

This article is part-sponsored by Lux Express and TALLINK SLJA LINE, and the Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau. We received a 72 hour complimentary Tallinn Card  and we get a little discount on the hotels, but all opinions and the delicious food and drink that I thoroughly consumed, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

I’m going to be travelling to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, AND Finland!

I’ll tell you all about what we’re going to be doing in Riga in Latvia with the help of the Tallinn Card, what the view was like on the ferry crossing from Estonia to Finland with TALLINK SLJA LINE and what the plans are for Helsinki in Finland, in the coming weeks.

International Games Week Berlin 2015 is a leading cross-industry communication and networking platform for games businesss, development and culture, and will be taking place between April 21-26, 2015.

I’ll be going to TBEX Europe (Travel Bloggers Exchange) an International Networking Conference, for the first time! It’ll be taking place in Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15.

Strictly Stand Up English Comedy Night will be taking place at the Quatsch Comedy Club on 29.04.15.

Eddie Izzard will be back in Germany and will be front-lining a killer international night of comedy at the Admirals Palast on 08.05.15.

The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. Anybody can apply!

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in April, I haven’t a clue where else you’re going to be!

April is going to be refreshing.

Watch this space! Riga-Black-Balsam-6Have you ever been to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia & Finland? Do you want to go to Vilnius or Riga? Would you be all daring and take a long-distance bus or coach?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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The British Shorts Film Festival might not be a Ridley Scott film, although actually it was!

British bunting via @sonycctweetsI’m really excited about my forth-coming trip to the Baltic Region and you’ll be the first to hear all about it LOL! Right now, I would like to focus on some British stuff.

Living in Berlin as an expat  and as The British Berliner, means that I get to go to such fabulous activities and events such as:

Oh no! Don't look if you're a vegetarian! Image@ eat-the-world
Oh no! Don’t look if you’re a vegetarian!
Image@ eat-the-world
If I can go to Fashion Week, so can you?! © Photo Peter Stigter.
If I can go to Fashion Week, so can you?!
© Photo Peter Stigter.
  • As well as being invited to theatre productions such as THE WYLD at the Friedrichstadt-Palast or Breakin’ Mozart at the Wintergarten Varieté.
My garden. Notice the bunting in the background!
My garden. Notice the bunting in the background!

As a British expat in Berlin, I also get invited to British stuff such as:

  • The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. I was invited by the Visit Britain Media Team! I wasn’t able to go as I was in Thailand at the time but it’s the thought that counts LOL and happily since I had actually been to Glasgow previously, I was still able to write a little something! : Go North to Glasgow!
Images of Cool Britannia with absolutely everybody LOL! @Debbiefm
Images of Cool Britannia with absolutely everybody LOL!
@Debbiefm
Royal Ascot.
Royal Ascot.
  • As a British expat, I also get invited to the British Embassy for “cheese and wine,” “a few drinks,” A Royal Ascot celebration aka horse-riding. Since it was official Embassy event we all had to observe protocol and tradition with the ladies wearing formal daywear and a hat if you’re sitting near the Queen, and a hat, headpiece or fascinator if you’re further away. As for gentlemen (and you get to be a real lady and a real gentleman), they got to wear either a black or grey morning dress including a waistcoat and tie, a top hat, and black shoes. Nothing else would do!
  • As a British expat, I get invited to networking events at the Embassy, and other social engagements. I’ve always felt honoured in being so. In fact just last week, I got a telephone call from a local TV / radio station who wanted to interview me about the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Germany. Me! I was astounded! And yes, she’s coming. The Queen is coming to Germany. I’ve never met the Queen in real life before so I hope to change that this year LOL! : 10 Reasons to be an expat.
  • From time to time, I get asked to join a German TV  programme such as Wissenshunger on the VOX TV station. I took part on the TV show to discuss After Dinner Mints. They gave me a DVD as a thank you. Meanwhile, some friends say that repeats are still on the German network but I’ve never seen it LOL! If you’re interested, that particular episode was called “After dinner mints der Englische Versuchung” or “WH Pfefferminztaler.” if you do see it anywhere, let me know!
Afternoon Tea.
Afternoon Tea.
  • And if I’m extremely lucky, I get a tiny little paragraph that I wrote for a European food blog picked up by the American publication of The Huffington Post. THE HUFFINGTON POST! Wow! Here it is : 25 Spring Travel Tips Across Europe.
The British Shorts Film Festival.
The British Shorts Film Festival.

In short, I’m quite privileged as it goes, so in January, one of my favourite German girlfriends sent me a message on Facebook and asked me if I was going to the Festival.

“What festival I asked?”

She sent me a link.

As soon as I saw it, I contacted the organiser, a German man called Jürgen Fehrmann.

The fact is, Berlin is Germany’s capital city and a lot of things tend to happen at the same time. A lot of things. In fact, that very week I had events to attend on Wednesday and Thursday. The Festival was to start on 15.01.15 which was a Thursday. I couldn’t make it on Thursday but I went on Friday and pretty much spent the whole weekend there!

I’m married and I have a child and activities and events have to be carefully organised so that everything fits nicely. Thankfully, “The Tall Young Gentleman” had gone camping that weekend with the Boy Scouts of America. Outdoors.

And The Music Producer had another album to produce, and so I was free to go where I wished. I wished to go to the British Shorts Film Festival.

BS2014_Logo

WHAT IS THE BRITISH SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL?

The British Shorts Film Festival is a collection of 111 British and Irish short films shown within a span of five (5) days from the 15th – 19th January, 2015!

This was the 8th edition of the festival and even with the crisp, cold January weather, the British Shorts has evolved to become a true international audience festival with one of the most interesting platforms for British and Irish short films, outside the UK and Ireland.

The Brain Hack.
The Brain Hack.

WHO IS THE BRITISH SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL FOR?

Well, this film festival is for established film-makers, promising newcomers, talented film students, and anybody else who has an interest in the making of short films. Indeed, the likes of Judi Dench (James Bond – 007), Michael Fassbender (The X.Men), and Martin Freeman (Sherlock Holmes (BBC) & The Hobbit) have all appeared in previous festival films.

It doesn’t matter if you have a large budget, a low budget, or no budget at all (like we had LOL!). At the end of the festival ANYONE can present a film to be judged by a respected jury, as well as the audience.

Gulp!

The Bigger Picture.
The Bigger Picture.

BUT WHAT IS IT EXACTLY?

Well, the film screenings have the following categories:

  • Comedy.
  • Drama & Thriller.
  • Animation & Experimental.
  • Horror.
  • Music Videos.
  • Documentary.
  • Retrospective: “Reeling Back.” The very first (1st) British silent cinema film, accompanied by a new live score by Dirk Markham.
  • Special Screening, curated by Directors Notes. Followed by a Q+A with Rob Munday (Directors Notes).
OMP - Orchestre Miniature in the Park.
OMP – Orchestre Miniature in the Park.

We live in Berlin.

Berlin is an exciting city filled with young inspiring talent so of course, there were other interesting  and exciting events and items such as:

  • A free festival workshop & a 48-hour film project.
  • Stand-Up-Comedy live: Eleanor Morton’s Fringe-Show Lollipop.
  • Concerts & Parties which were either free entrance or a small token of about €5.00 and you got a glass of champagne included too!
  • Exhibitions.
  • Talks with film-makers.
  • An an Open Screening for ANY short film.

Sign

WHERE DOES THE BRITISH SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL TAKE PLACE?

This is the 8th year and the festival always takes place at the home base cinema called Sputnik Kino in the suburb of Kreuzberg, with some screenings taking place at the Badehaus Szimpla, Acudkino, and Filmkunst 66.

Oh, I remember the Sputnik Kino!

When I first came to visit Berlin in the 90’s, my German boyfriend lived in Kreuzberg and told me about this particular cinema. I like artists. What can I say!

Anyway, in those days, this cinema was not as comfortable as it is now.

Oh dear me no.

Seats made from brick!
Seats made from brick!

The seats were made of bricks! Yes, you heard me.

Bricks!

In Germany, you can take bottles of beer and glasses of wine into the screening with you.

Well, on this occasion, a long time ago. In the 90’s. The audience were a little upset about the film they were watching, and began to shout and throw bottles all about and at the big screen.

We got out of there pronto!

Cue 15 years later.

More bricks. With available cushions if needed!
More bricks. With available cushions if needed!

The seats are still made of bricks but now have soft cushions to lean on LOL!

And you can still take your drinks in with you and the clientele has changed, so nobody throws glasses and bottles about.

We’re far too artistic for that!

Open Screening.

The Sputnik Kino has a lovely reputation of supporting aspiring independent film-makers and once a month, every third (3rd) Wednesday, has an Open Screening. This Open Screening allows film-makers to show their movies to a live audience, and is in both English and German.

No appointments are necessary, no application forms, no testings made, it doesn’t have to be “finished,” any language is accepted, no previous qualifications necessary.

It’s a forum whereby you can “test” your film, and a live audience can ask questions, make comments, positively criticise or praise your film.

The requirements?

Not more than 25 minutes. And members of the public are the judges of the film.

Cost?

Absolutely nothing! For both the film-makers and the audience!

Emotional Fuse Box.

I’M INTERESTED IN FILMS BUT I’M NOT A FILM-MAKER.

I’m not a film-maker either LOL however, I do love British films.

I saw various clips of film between 2 and 30 minutes. Most were really interesting and clever, and some were downright weird, but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to see them!

I watched a whole host of Documentary Specials and also short Animation Films after which I dragged myself home in the wee hours of 2:00!

Eleanor Morton and her "Lollipop" stand-up show.
Eleanor Morton and her “Lollipop” stand-up show.

The performances were completely packed out, showing British and Irish talent in a Berlin setting.

I also watched a few live performances and a live stand up comedy show by the Scottish Variety Award nominated newcomer Eleanor Morton and her “Lollipop” stand-up show. She’s hilarious by the way and a right laugh!

Phantom Limb.
Phantom Limb.

CAN YOU MAKE A FILM YOURSELF?

You certainly can!

The attraction of British films for an international crowd is either historical drama such as Downton Abbey, The King’s Speech, and Titanic or gritty down-to-earth films such as Trainspotting, Billy Elliot, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

I like British films because of the grit as I do Berlin films, such as Lola Rent and Goodbye Lenin.

Boy and Bicycle by Ridley Scott introducing Tony Scott.
Boy and Bicycle by Ridley Scott introducing Tony Scott.

At the British Shorts Film Festival, we even got to watch the very first film that Ridley Scott ever made with his younger brother Tony Scott riding on a bicycle somewhere outside Durham, I think. The film was black and white and was called Boy and Bicycle.

Lassenza.
Lassenza.

At the film festival we booked into a workshop on film-making!

I actually went for the fun of it and to see what it was all about but my German girlfriend actually wanted to learn some movie-making techniques, and we eventually ended up making a 5 minute movie which we had to submit for film-making criticism!

We felt like this young man called Mohammed - in this film!
We felt like this young man called Mohammed – in this film!

OMG!

We only had 48 hours to make it and I perked up I can tell you! We spent 48 hours wandering the streets of Berlin for inspiration in the German cold of January.

And then we made the film.

It’s out and it was judged. Apparently, it was OK but I can’t tell you where it is, as it’s enormously raw.

We’re actually thinking of editing it properly and showcasing it as her film portfolio and perhaps mine too. It’s arty and a far-cry from the subject matter of my blog, but you can never have too many skills LOL!

I mentioned this to a British blogger who asked whether I would share it with you all.

Ha! Ha! No chance!

The People's Choice Award.
The People’s Choice Award.

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND GERMAN TO PARTICIPATE?

Nope!

All literature and instruction is in both German and English. Being that it’s a British & Irish Film Festival, the films are of course, in English!

Exchange And Mart.
Exchange And Mart.

MY VERDICT?

Lots of fun and learning and a really good project!

At a time when large budgets and big stars are the norm, it’s quite nice to see, support, and encourage a non-profit film-making project.

In our city.

In Berlin.

For more information. Please contact: British Shorts Film Festival.

For more information about Open Screenings. Please contact: Sputnik Kino.

Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards, 2014.
Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards, 2014.

This article is not sponsored although I received complimentary tickets, all opinions and the film that I made are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

In the next few months, I’ll be travelling to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland.

International Games Week Berlin 2015 is a leading cross-industry communication and networking platform for games businesss, development and culture, and will be taking place between April 21-26, 2015.

I’ll be going to TBEX Europe (Travel Bloggers Exchange) an International Networking Conference, for the first time! It’ll be taking place in Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15.

Strictly Stand Up English Comedy Night will be taking place at the Quatsch Comedy Club on 29.04.15.

Eddie Izzard will be back in Germany and will be front-lining a killer international night of comedy at the Admirals Palast on 08.05.15.

The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. Anybody can apply!

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in the Spring, you must be mad!

March & April are going to be exciting.

Watch this space!

Waving the flag of Britishness!
Waving the flag of Britishness!

Have you ever been to the British Shorts film Festival? Do you like British films?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

I’m going to the Baltic Region. You know, the “other” Eastern Europe!

At the ITB Berlin.
At the ITB Berlin.

So last week, I wrote a bit of a controversial post about what it is to be a blogger.

Any regrets?

Absolutely, none at all!

I like pushing buttons and gong to places unknown, which leads me to the next question?

What is this blog about? You know THIS blog. The blog called The British Berliner.

MY Blog.

Victoria looking quite model-like, in a Berlin summer, 2014.
Victoria looking quite model-like, in a Berlin summer, 2014.

Well, to put it in a nutshell. It’s about me.

There. I said it.

I write this because an experienced blogger recently asked me (rather nicely I might add) whether last weeks’ post was wavering away from what this blog is about.

That got me thinking?

So let’s go back a bit. What is this blog about? Well according to the About Me page. This blog was about being British in Berlin. And that is true but isn’t exactly accurate and since I started this blog in October 2013. Yay! This blog has developed a life of its own.

God Save the Queen in Cool Britannia!
God Save the Queen in Cool Britannia!

As a result, The British Berliner is now a lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, travels around the world, AND being British in Berlin.

It’s about what I do in normal every day life and where I go, and one of the things that contributed to that change was the ITB.

I learnt a lot about how to prepare to go to the biggest travel trade fair in the world, back in 2014. I mean, for goodness sake, I hadn’t even known what Twitter was back then. Thank goodness there was a workshop on it hosted by the European Vice-President, and let me tell you, I learnt pretty quickly so that by the end of the week, my Twitter account was up and running.

Yep! My Twitter account is only one (1) year old!

A WYSE Travel Confederation lecture at the ITB. If you look closely, you can see the back of my head and my red handbag on the side-corner!
A WYSE Travel Confederation lecture at the ITB.
If you look closely, you can see the back of my head and my red handbag on the side-corner!

I write this because before going to the ITB, I had never ever met a blogger in real life! Oh yes, I was fully engaged in the virtual world but I had never met anyone.

In 2014, I met loads of people so before I delve into my next travel adventure of 2015, I would just like to acknowledge and thank all the bloggers or social media professionals that I have actually met since the ITB in March 2014! Since there’s a long list of people, please forgive me if I leave you out.

Bloggers at the ITB in Berlin.
Bloggers at the ITB in Berlin.

I’ve met:

  • Maja Benke of Low Budget Travel. She was lovely and actually the first blogger that I had ever met! I met her at the pre-ITB Travel Massive party in 2014, and kept on bumping into her!
  • Anula Galewska is the Chapter Leader of Travel Massive Berlin. She’s a great girl and I was very interested in meeting her as she is also the marketing person for ExploRussia as I was, and am still, interested in going to Russia via the Trans Siberian train!
  • Adam Groffman of Travels of Adam is a very sweet American guy based in Berlin and apart from the fact that we constantly bump into each other all over town, every now and again we go for cocktails and gossip!

  • Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate. I met Kate an hour after I returned from our trip to Poland. I knew that she was in Germany, and I had reached out to her that if she were ever in Berlin, to give me a buzz. She did! She’s a cool industrious girl. Even more petite than I am LOL! She was really nice and gave me some blogging tips and a blog leg up. She still does!
  • Kash Bhattacharya of the Budget Traveller. I met Kash the same time that I met Kate. He’s a fellow Brit and a tiny bear of a guy with hugs and jolly laughter for all, but behind the merry exterior is a man with hard-core ideas and a pair of high-flying shoulders! A great guy.
  • Ciki of CC Food Travel. I met Ciki from Malaysia in Berlin along with Kate and Kash. She’s a beautiful girl with a huge sense of humour, and delicious photographs of exquisite food. She’s a real pro. and we still send each other hilarious tweets. I can’t wait to visit her country anytime soon!
  • Mario Cacciottolo of Someone Once Told Me. Mario wasn’t a blogger in the strict sense of the world but a British photographer. He was embarking on a world tour of quotes from random people and asked if I would participate. I sure did! I also showed a bunch of international bloggers where anyone could participate in outdoor tango dancing on the Berlin river-side for absolute no money at all! Oh, and also having great beers whilst pretending to be on a beach. Good Times!
  • Kemkem of the Next Bite of Life. Kemkem is an American married to an Italian. We met as she reached out to me because she and her husband were thinking of perhaps emmigrating to Berlin from Malta. I offered to meet up and show her around and invited them to the Carnival of Cultures or Karneval der Kulturen. They opted to move to Spain instead, but we remain friends.
  • Dale & Franca of Anglo Italian Follow Us. They are an Anglo-Italian couple whom I met at a local bloggers meet-up one morning. They mainly write about slow vegan travel.

At ITB Berlin.

At the ITB a fortnight (two weeks) ago, I met:

  • Melvin Böcher, the founder of Travel Dudes. He’s a young German guy with a crazy hairdo. We met virtually when he asked whether I would like to join Travel Dudes and write something. I wrote about how to order a pint at an English pub. We met for the very first time at the ITB. I’m thinking of interviewing him!
  • D. J. Yabis of Dream Euro Trip is a flamboyant stylish guy from The Philippines, living in Cologne. He was a great laugh and so bitchy and funny. A great new friend to have LOL!
  • Raphael Alexander of A Journey of Wonders is a writer/photographer from Mexico. I met him at the Travel Massive party and it wasn’t that difficult to spot him LOL. He’s going places and I like his blogstyle!
  • Keith Jenkins of the Velvet Escape. Keith is a quiet unassuming man but a man with brains. He is the founder of iambassador and such projects as Blogville.
A yummy shrimp roll from #WeAreInPuglia!
A yummy shrimp roll from #WeAreInPuglia!
  • The lovely Stefania Albanese, of #WeAreInPuglia. She and her team were so kind and friendly and encouraged me to make Focaccia and not only that, but stuffed my bag with the bread dough, Italian bread sticks called Taralli, olive oil from Puglia, and a huge bottle of red Italian wine!
  • Christina Nagel-Gasch of Mrs Berry. When I was originally looking for information about the ITB last year, this was the only place that I found it. In German! This year, we found ourselves waiting for the same Dresden contact and as soon as I heard her name, I just wanted to hug her. Oh, and I also gate-crashed a bloggers event that she was hosting, but nobody seemed to mind LOL!
  • Carly Hulls of Austrian Adaptation. Carly is a fun-loving Australian expat who lives in the Sound of Music Hills of Austria. We met at the ITB and with jolly glasses of wine, we bonded rather well. I can’t wait to see her again somewhere LOL!
  • Natasha Semmence of Eat Shoot Travel – ESST. I met Natasha ‘cos she followed me while I was looking for space to hang my coat in the press room. She’s a British photographer, a close mate of Kash, and a very good person to have a natter with.
  • Astrid Zand and the lovely ITB press and marketing team. Again, they were absolutely fantastic and I even got to meet and hang out with them at the Press /Editorial Office. A great bunch of people!
  • And lastly, Lee. A. Evans. Lee is the President of Guides Berlin – the official Berlin Guide Federation – and I’ve known Lee personally for probably three (3) years now, well before blogging was ever part of my répertoire. Lee and I are both Committee Members of the Boy Scouts of America – Troop 46 – in Berlin. One of my expat activities even though I’m British LOL!
Kash & I at a bloggers after-ITB party!
Kash & I at a bloggers after-ITB party!

People may say that bloggers are introverts.

I disagree.

Most of the ones that I’ve met can talk the hind leg off a donkey and are as extroverted as they come. Myself included LOL!

And so, back to the topic of this week.

Drum roll pleeeeease!

A map of the Baltic Sea.
A map of the Baltic Sea.

THE BRITISH BERLINER IS GOING TO THE BALTIC REGION. YAY!

 

WHERE AM I GOING?

All the details are not yet 100% cut and dried, but I’m going to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia & Finland.

Lithuania.
Lithuania.

LITHUANIA:

Lithuania is the oldest state of the Baltic countries and according to Lonely Planet, was named third (3rd) in the top 10 countries to visit in 2015. If Lonely Planet have pinpointed Lithuania as the next trend, I’m in good company LOL! I will be going to Vilnius which is the capital city. The city has been known as “the Jerusalem of Lithuania” because of its strong Jewish past until WWII. Vilnius has also been known as “Little Rome” and “North Athens” and is a treasure-trove of Baroque craftsmanship.

I can’t wait to go there.

This will be a cultural family trip so we’ll be staying at a small family Bed and Breakfast consisting of just seven (7) rooms, and located between the Old Town and a park. This B&B is called Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast.

Latvia.
Latvia.

LATVIA:

Latvia is a small economy based in between Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia and Russia! It is known as the Pearl of the Baltic States and is on the shores of the Baltic Sea. We will be going to Riga which is the capital city, the largest city in the Baltic State Region, and also listed as historical significant by UNESCO.

Due to other engagements, The Music Producer will only be travelling with us for a week and will be flying back to Berlin. As a result, “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I will continue the rest of our Baltic cultural adventure together.

We will be staying at a four-star boutique hotel in the heart of the old town of Riga. The hotel
is called Hotel Justus.
The Medieval Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia.
The Medieval Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia.

ESTONIA:

Estonia, officially called the Republic of Estonia, is a country surrounded by Finland, Latvia, and Russia. It is considered one (1) of the smallest countries in the European Union, as it only  has a country-wide population of 1.3 million people!

We will be going to Tallinn which is the capital city. An advanced, highly economic country, its history with Finland is tightly connected, coming from an ancient type of Finnish people!

We will be staying at the oldest hotel in Estonia, the luxury 5-star boutique hotel – The Hotel St. Petersbourg and on our return back from Finland, we will also be staying at the 4-star charming My City Hotel.

Visit Finland.

FINLAND:

Full of interesting contrast such as the Midnight Sun and days full of darkness in Winter, over two-thirds of the world’s people who experience the Midnight Sun, actually live in Finland! Wow! In fact, in the most Northern part of Finland, the sunlight can be present for a consecutive number of over 70 days!

I would like to go to Lapland one of these days, but for this journey, we’ll be going to the very cultural city of Helsinki which is the capital, and also has a 100 km long shoreline and around 300 islands!

We will be staying at the very artistically designed GLO Hotel Art which is an exclusive, charming lifestyle hotel built around a century-old Art Nouveau castle, located in the heart of the Helsinki Design District.

Very exciting!

WHY THE BALTIC STATE REGION?

shutterstock-92810047-zob

As of now, the region above has not really been discovered by tourists and travellers. I mean, have you ever heard of Latvia? What about Lithuania? And to be honest, we all know of Finland, but how many of us have actually been there?

Exactly!

These countries are based in Europe and their capital cities have stories of richness, history and grandeur unspoilt by the full-board package set and the larger louts of stag and hen nights. They are sparsely populated, and not your typical cheap and friendly destination. As a matter of fact prices in Finland border on the insane and Estonia has prices that would make your hair stand up, although still considered to be “budget” destinations.

I want to experience these countries for myself.

That’s why!

HOW AM I TRAVELLING?

The Lux Express. And free WIFI!
The Lux Express.
And free WIFI!

We will be on a part-sponsorship with Lux Express.

The Lux Express Group is the largest international express route coach operator in the Baltic region with its head-office based in Estonia. It offers frequent connections to the Baltic States, and to parts of Russia such as St. Petersburg, Moscow and Minsk. ‘Such a shame that we don’t have the time to nip into St. Petersburg as there is a legal way that you can go to Russia for 24 or 72 hours visa-free, as long as you arrive by ship and pre-organise your hotel or sight-seeing activities!

The next time I’m in Finland or Estonia, I’m going to do just that, as I’m desperate to go to Russia. Even for a day but hopefully, for much longer LOL!

We will be travelling with the Lux Express Group from Berlin to Estonia and back again!

HOW AM I GOING TO CROSS THE SEA INTO FINLAND?

Sailing away! Photo @AS Tallink Grupp
Sailing away!
Photo @AS Tallink Grupp

We will be on a sponsorship deal with TALLINK SLJA LINE.

TALLINK is an Estonian shipping company currently operating Baltic Sea cruise ferries and ships from Estonia to Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Germany. We will be sailing with them from Estonia to Finland and back to Estonia. In fact, the E-commerce Manger offered us a complimentary sailing to Sweden but in this trip, I had already fixed the itinerary and moreover, I wanted to go via overland. However, watch this space for a future visit to Sweden, Finland, Latvia, and Estonia!

It’s going to be quite a trip!

Food Glorious Food!
Food Glorious Food!

This article is part-sponsored by Lux Express and TALLINK SLJA LINE, and we get a little discount on the hotels, but all opinions and the exquisite shrimps that I ate, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be writing about the British Shorts Film Festival 2015.

In the next few months, I’ll be travelling to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland.

I’ll also be going to TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) an International Networking Conference, for the first time! It’ll be taking place in Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in March, you’ve lost your way!

March is going to be warming up.

Watch this space!

Pelmeni, a type of dumpling served with sour cream in Latvia.
Pelmeni, a type of dumpling served with sour cream in Latvia.

Have you ever been to the Baltic States? Have you ever heard of Lithuania or Latvia?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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