How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

It’s 2018 and it’s January.

At the beginning of every new year, it’s the norm to think about what you did last year, and what you’re going to do this year.

Last year, I travelled to 8 counties.

8 wonderful countries!

However did I do that?

Have you ever been to Split in Croatia – Bring out the dragons!

I’m not a multi-millionaire. Neither is my husband!

I didn’t win the lottery.

I didn’t quit my job.

I didn’t change my lifestyle.

I didn’t throw my one and only child into boarding school.

I didn’t re-locate to a warmer (cheaper) climate.

I didn’t sell my stuff!

The Tall Young Gentleman & The Music Producer, looking very sorry for themselves at Valhalla – Blackpool

So how did I do it?

Well, if you look at my about me page, you will see that I am married, I have a son, and I have a corporate job in Berlin, as well as this wonderful lifestyle, travel, expat blog!

What I mean to say is that I live a normal life. Just like you.

I’m married, in a relationship with someone, or have been single. Just like you.

I have family responsibilities. Just like you.

I have a full-time job. Just like you.

And by god.

I have a daily budget.

Absolutely.

Just like you.

Book your hotel here!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” taking to the sails in Mardorf.

And yet.

And yet…..

There was something that I did differently that might have been slightly the opposite of you.

I wanted to travel to more destinations last year, and I did.

I wanted to get on that plane and go to Vienna. I wanted to take that train to Amsterdam.

OMG! I was so broke at the beginning of last year but I was desperate to go to Sweden, so I took a long-distance-inter-country-coach-bus, to Stockholm.

From Berlin!

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Travel through Europe via FlixBus!

Ha! Ha! Ha!

It was crazy, and I vowed never to do it again.

But only two weeks later, I did exactly the the same thing!

I’m totally mad!

But I did it anyway LOL!

The point I’m making is that you don’t have to do anything drastic if you want to afford a life of travel.

You don’t have to choose between having it all and having nothing at all, and you definitely don’t have to quit your lifestyle!

Book your hotel here!

Myself with ski leaders in Rokytnice nad Jizerou – Czech Republic

I’m living proof of that.

Oh yes, I’ve done my GAP year, and my backpacking era.

I’ve slept in a casino, I’ve been in a hostel where not 1 but 2 complete strangers, were sleeping on my €2 /$3 per night bed!

I’ve been to Scotland where my B&B (which I had already paid for mind you), had completely disappeared. Completely!

I’ve booked hotels in Italy and couldn’t remember the names (thankfully I remembered where I first saw it. In the New York Times)!

Heck. I even missed my flight to Qatar, and had to go to Korea instead!

I’ve adjusted my travelling style over time according to my circumstances, who I was travelling with, and my mood!

And let me tell you. I’m not 20 anymore so those fleapit hostels, motels, cheap-I-don’t-wanna-know-who-slept-here-previously are definitely now gone!

Yes, I’m going to keep an eye on my hard-working money, but No, I’m no longer going to be sharing a room with 20 people, 10 people or even 5 other people!

Book your hotel here!

Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.
Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.

Nope!

Those days were fun, but they’re over.

Absolutely.

I think!!

In short, I’m enormously happy to go to hostels and we went to quite a few in the last couple of years, but we paid that little bit extra for a private room (since my child is a great traveller too), privacy, calmness, and security. We’ve also been to fancy hotel resorts and even rented a whole house for two weeks in Bali.

So, how can you have it all?

If you’re under 25 years old, you don’t need it all, and that’s the darn truth!

Book your budget hotel here!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.

Get yourself a backpack, work for a couple of months in a local shop, pub, or business.

Take a gap year before university or after university, in the summer, in the winter, or whatever, and whenever, have about €1,000 / $1,000 or £1,000 at the initial stage, and you’re good to go.

I’m not talking about an around-the-world trip here or flight costs, just the old let’s-see-how-far-this-money-will-take me scenario. Grab an old car, grab a few friends, and off you go.

If you’re in Europe, stay on the continent and do a road trip. Ditto the Americas. If you’re in Asia, you’re gonna have a thrilling great time.

When it’s over, it’s over!

You come back, buckle down, save up, and then do it again.

Properly!

Book your hotel here!

Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

Now for those of you over 25 years old with jobs, families, responsibilities, and crossroads in front of you, do what I do.

I live life to the full, I work hard at my office and on my blog, and I get creative.

Yes, creative.

There is plenty to do in Lucerne so “The Tall Young Gentleman” & I made our own independent walking tour instead!
  • Our son is 15 years old which means I can’t travel in the low season. Just like you.

What do I do?

I book ahead. Far ahead!

In 2012, we went on a 3 week trip to Tuscany. In August!

I know. I know. I forgot it was going to be boiling.

Don’t judge me!

Anyway, I took out a map, pinned the places that we wanted to go to, and started doing research and contacting hostels, hotels, villas and castles.

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel in Italy!

Yes, castles!

And the most we paid for our Royal Victoria300-year-old-5-star-hotel-in-Pisa-on-the-riverside was €52.00 per day! For 2 rooms, en-suite including breakfast! For the 3 of us LOL!

We started planning in 2011.

In 2014, we went to four (4) destinations outside Europe where we live. We went to Thailand, Qatar, Indonesia, and Korea. We started planning it in 2012.

In 2015, we went to the Baltic regions of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. Actually, we took a ferry to Helsinki, but still! Anyway, we took a bus-coach. The journey took us 26 hours, and we were knackered and exhausted, but we didn’t die!

We started planning it in 2014.

Book your hotel here!

Paella in Spain is just all you need!

In 2016, I went back to Asia, but our family trips were firmly based in Europe. Brexit or not! We went to Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and other parts of Germany.

We started planning it in 2015.

In 2017, all our of family trips were in Europe, regardless of the countless terror acts throughout the continent. We went to expensive Sweden, Austria and England, dependable Holland, Germany, and the Czech Republic, as well as new and exotic parts of Eastern Europe – Croatia and Slovenia.

Book your hotel here!

A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

Again, planning started in 2016, and all were in consideration of the school holidays!

So book your hotel sooner, rather than later.

Right here!

You have to take action to get it!!

If you live in Europe, you get a minimum of 24 holidays per year, and between 11-15 public holidays on top of that. That makes 35 days. Many get more!

If you start your holidays on Friday evening or Saturday morning, you’ve got the weekends too. When I went to India, I went for 4 weeks but on paper, I actually went for 17 working days or 2.5 weeks.

And how did I do this?

Over Easter and May Day weekend!

And depending on the year, if the public holiday is in the middle of the week (like Xmas 2018), you can just take the Thursday and Friday off, and you’ve got the weekend on both sides anyway. That makes 11 days off, (including weekends),  but using just 2 days booked off your holiday space!

Boom!!

Taking a taxi in Lisbon.

If you live in Europe, everywhere is so close. Poland is 1.5 hours away from Berlin. Denmark about 4-5 hours. By car.

England is 1.5 hours away by plane. France. Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece are about 2 hours. Turkey, Morocco, Egypt about 3-4 hours.

By train, the sky is the European limit. As for coaches or buses, Linda from Expat Eye on Germany travelled all the way from Latvia (not far from Russia) for all of €50!

We did it for even less!

In short, distance isn’t an issue.

You can fly, take the car, train, bus, sail, or even cycle! Europe is great for the bicycle.

If cash is short, camping is available all over Europe, as well as bunkhouses, hostels, and couchsurfing, for absolutely free!

Or book your hostel or apartment here!

Under the waterfall in Yosemite, USA.
Under the waterfall in Yosemite, USA.
  • We’re comfortable.  And we’re middle-class. Just like you.

What do we do?

We save, budget, and plan how much we can reasonably spend.

It took us 2 years and so our budget in Asia was €100 per day.

I went to Korea, but I should have been in Qatar!

We spent about €850 for a flight from Berlin-Bangkok-Bali-Berlin each. We spent about €150 flying around in Asia itself each, rather than taking the rickety all night train, and we spent between €18 per person for a lovely wooden chalet in Thailand, and €70 per night for a complete house in Bali!

We were there for a month.

Book ahead.

Far ahead!

Catching a fish on the Polish Baltic Sea.

And as for Poland, I paid €26 per night for the lovely floor-heated-free-WIFI-on-the Baltic-Sea double room!

If the budget is “reasonable” then book B&B’s, pensions, and small or “budget” hotels.

Book your hotel here!

Between you and me, Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle, are very much a Berlin fit! –
©Alexi Lubomirski

If you’ve got the cash. Go for it.

There are plenty of wonderful places in which you’ll be treated like royalty!

Cool Britannia!
Cool Britannia!
  • We keep our eyes open and go on various mailing lists. Just like you.

Register with airlines and transport corporations that you like, and as many as you like.

Register with hotel and hostel brands that you like. They always have special deals and discount offers for their members. I once flew to Krakow with Easyjet for free! And why?

Because I was on their mailing list and it was a new destination.

Book your hotel here!

Or simply, sing for your supper. Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!
  • Be creative with flexibility!

We have school and jobs. Just like you.

Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible.

If you’re looking for an adventure. Use skycanner and go for “anywhere” within your budget.

Go to Eastern Europe instead of Western Europe.

Go to South America instead of North America.

Go to Wales instead of England.

Or not.

Don’t choose. Go where you want to go.

Book your hotel here!

Don’t choose. Go where you want to go – Live a life of style and travel!

If you live in North America, I know that it’s more complicated.

However, if you’ve worked hard, don’t feel guilty. TAKE your holidays and USE them for your own pleasure.

Don’t paint the porch. The porch can wait.

Go to that place that you’ve always wanted to go to.

Do the road trip.

Or fly to Argentina.

Whatever.

Book your hotel here!

If you’re American, and you only feel comfortable visiting other American cities, that’s alright too!

If you feel more comfortable staying in North America, then stay in North America. North America is an amazing destination and so beautiful.

I’m not here to guilt trip you. It’s your holiday.

If you feel more comfortable, going on a package tour. Go for it.

If you feel more comfortable travelling with the whole family. It’s your call.

Book your hotel here!

Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
  • Don’t forget to ask. We love a bargain. Just like you.

Ask for discounts.

Ask for a bigger room.

Ask for an included breakfast.

Ask for WIFI.

Ask for an extra bed.

Ask for free parking.

Ask about children prices, student prices, senior citizen / retiree prices, corporate prices, even regional or local prices.

If you’re from “there” let them know. You never know. If you don’t ask, they can’t help you, or reduce the prices.

Ask, and ask again.

It doesn’t matter if it’s “only” 2 months, 2 weeks, or 2 days. Just know that you can afford to travel.

You can have it all.

Book your hotel here!

Don’t even think of asking me!

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…..Where am I going in 2018?

Drum roll pleeeeease!

Travel plans this year are:

Romania

Romania

Belgium

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Czech Republic

Norway

Norway

Poland

India

India

And of course, Germany! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Book your hotel here!

BMW Munich – Summer in Germany – Simply the Best!

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure.

I live in Germany, which many consider to be an expensive Western nation. I can afford a life of travel and a comfortable Berlin lifestyle.

I choose to have it all.

HOW I CAN AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL. DON’T CHOOSE: LIVE A LIFE OF STYLE AND TRAVEL!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

This article is not sponsored, and the exciting countries that I plan to visit in 2018, all my very own!

In January, I’ll be making an announcement that will probably surprise you. Find out throughout January!

I went on a press trip to Hamburg. Watch out for the details!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK later in the month!

In a few weeks, I’ll be visiting Belgium!

I’ll be at the British Shorts Film Festival taking place between 11th – 17th January. If you’re an aspiring film-maker submission is free of charge, so hurry!

I’ll be at the most famous burlesque-fantastic Berlin operetta – Frau Luna – Operette in zwei Akten, taking place at TIPI AM KANZLERAMT, between 11th January – 11th March. Everyone’s most excited!

I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week taking place between 16th – 18th January.

I’ll be at the 33rd British Council Literature Seminar – #BritLitBerlin taking place between 25th – 27th January, 2018. If you want to attend or join in, registration is now open!

Save the Date!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in January, then where the hell are you?

January is going to be splendid!

See you next week!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

What do you choose to do with your holiday/vacation time? Where are you going in 2018? Have you been to any of the countries above? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part II

Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience - Part II
Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part II

So last week, I introduced you to a little bit of why I went to visit Taiwan.

And this is why I did so:

Taiwan is all in the news at the moment, so visit sooner rather than later, before it gets all complicated! 

ANY IDEAS OF WHAT I SHOULD DO WHEN I GET TO TAIWAN?

Being in Taiwan was a slow cultural solo trip!
Being in Taiwan was a slow cultural solo trip!

I only went for five (5) days and based myself in Taipei, so this was a sloooooow cultural solo trip.

Taipei is home to various world-famous architectural or cultural landmarks which include:

Taipei 101 Observatory - The world's tallest building in 2004!
Taipei 101 Observatory – The world’s tallest building in 2004!
The 228 Peace Memorial Park ©Ryan G
The 228 Peace Memorial Park ©Ryan G
Making new friends under the glowing lanterns of the Mengjia Longshan Temple, in Taipei!
Making new friends under the glowing lanterns of the Mengjia Longshan Temple, in Taipei!
Tea culture in Taiwan!
Tea culture in Taiwan!
Yangmingshan National Park ©taiwan.net.tw
Yangmingshan National Park ©taiwan.net.tw
Paintbrushes, stencils, and ink, ready for the Pingxi Sky Lantern experience, in Taiwan!
Paintbrushes, stencils, and ink, ready for the Pingxi Sky Lantern experience, in Taiwan!
  • Pingxi

There really is plenty to do, and I wrote 16 brilliant reasons all about it! 

Schoolgirls in Taiwan for the Pingxi Sky Lantern experience!
Schoolgirls in Taiwan for the Pingxi Sky Lantern experience!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Taipei is easy to navigate using public transport.
Taipei is easy to navigate using public transport.

Taipei is easy to navigate.

Taxis are cheap and so is public transport.

The trains were easy to navigate and use, and were cheap, costing just NT$20 (Taiwanese dollars) or €0.60 cents per short hop journey!

Single journeys in Taipei cost just NT$20 (Taiwanese dollars) or €0.60 cents per short hop journey. Plenty of room to take your cello with you!
Single journeys in Taipei cost just NT$20 (Taiwanese dollars) or €0.60 cents per short hop journey. Plenty of room to take your cello with you!

The trains weren’t crammed or packed, and the floors were clean. I used my finger, and checked lol! There were plants and mobile-phone chargers everywhere, and even boxes for you to take a free umbrella!

If that isn’t service, I really don’t know what is!

There are underground trains, mainline trains, high-speed rail, and bus lines connect Taipei with other parts of the Taiwanese island!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Taiwan’s famous xiao chi (small bites)!
Taiwan’s famous xiao chi (small bites)!

One of the biggest pulls to Taiwan is the food that you can find there at Taiwan’s famous xiao chi (small bites), at the many department stores, kerbside restaurants, hawker carts, bubble tea stalls, and the famous daytime and night markets, so here we go.

Enjoy!

THE TAIPEI HUAXI STREET NIGHT MARKET

The Taipei Huaxi Street Night Market in Taipei.
The Taipei Huaxi Street Night Market in Taipei.

Located near the Longshan Temple, the Huaxi Street Night Market is the most well-known international tourist night markets in Taipei, and has been in business for more than 60 years! Traders sell Chinese herbal food, crafts, commodities, gourmet snacks, Chinese herbal cuisine cooked with snake and other exotic meat, foot massage shops, spas, and seafood!

Fish head soup!
Fish head soup!
Squid on a stick!
Squid on a stick!
Deep-fried squid!
Deep-fried squid!

Specialities include such delights as fish head soup, and deep-fried squid, with a variety of sauces such as spicy pepper and mind-blowing wasabi!

  • Cost of fried squid: NT$10 or €0.30!
Me drinking bubble tea in Taiwan!
Me drinking bubble tea in Taiwan!

And now for something completely different…chewy balls of tapioca bubble tea at the street market. A boon for me as bubble tea is actually banned in Germany!

  • Cost: NT$10 or €0.30!

Nearest station: Longshan Temple

Opening Times : 16:00-24:00

RAOHE STREET NIGHT MARKET

Roast pig! ©House of Hao's
Roast pig! ©House of Hao’s

The Raohe Street Night Market is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei, and just across the street from my amba Taipei Songshan hotel! It’s also quite traditional, packed with snacks, quaint shops and stalls, and carnival games with prizes, and is considered to be the largest garment wholesale market place in Taiwan!

Getting lost in the Wufenpu Fashion Area of Taipei!
Getting lost in the Wufenpu Fashion Area of Taipei!

In order to get there, I found myself getting lost among the maze and alleys full of racks of clothing, and discounted fashion shops at the Wufenpu Fashion Area!

Book your hotel here!

Snails in sauce!
Snails in sauce!
Noodle soup. I did have dumplings too, but I have no idea where I put them!
Noodle soup. I did have dumplings too, but I have no idea where I put them!
  • Cost of noodles: NT$8 or €0.25 per piece
  • Cost of soup: NT$15 or €0.45 per bowl

Nearest station: Songshan

Opening Times : 17:00-24:00

SHILIN NIGHT MARKET

A local tradesman at the Shilin Night Market, in Taipei!
A local tradesman at the Shilin Night Market, in Taipei!

The Shilin Night Market is one of the largest and most popular night markets in Taiwan! It was built in 1899 and is famous for great food!

Taiwanese students and young people, outside the Cicheng Temple, having a good time!
Taiwanese students and young people, outside the Cicheng Temple, having a good time!
Fishing for live shrimps at the night market, in Taiwan!
Fishing for live shrimps at the night market, in Taiwan!
Having a meal at a kerbside restaurants, with mates in Taiwan!
Having a meal at a kerbside restaurants, with mates in Taiwan!
The Shilin Night Market is popular with Taiwanese students because of it's cheap, attractive prices!
The Shilin Night Market is popular with Taiwanese students because of it’s cheap, attractive prices!

The Shilin Night Market is famous for local Taiwanese cuisine, and spills out into several bustling streets with more than 500 stores and vendors! The night market is divided into two parts. One part is in the Shilin Market building with a food court on the underground floor. The second part centers on the Yangming Cinema and the Cicheng Temple, and consists of a cluster of shops and stores popular with Taiwanese students and young people.

Exotic vegetables for the hotpot inTaiwan!
Exotic vegetables for the hotpot inTaiwan!
Exotic Taiwanese meatballs at the night market in Taipei!
Exotic Taiwanese meatballs at the night market in Taipei!
A hotpot for me, and a hotpot for you, at the Shillin Night Market in Taiwan!
A hotpot for me, and a hotpot for you, at the Shillin Night Market in Taiwan!
Shanghai Buns at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei!
Shanghai Buns at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei!

Not to be outdone – Taiwanese Afters and desserts!

Some sort of shaved ice!
Some sort of shaved ice!
I've no idea what it is exactly, but it looked pretty! Any ideas? Aha! I've been told that the string of red balls are 糖葫蘆 or sugar gourd strawberries or tomatoes, covered with sugar!
I’ve no idea what it is exactly, but it looked pretty! Any ideas? Aha! I’ve been told that the string of red balls are 糖葫蘆 or sugar gourd strawberries or tomatoes, covered with sugar!
I had this really nice fresh cherry drink, but due to brain freeze, I had to throw it away!
I had this really nice fresh cherry drink, but due to brain freeze, I had to throw it away!

Ha! Ha! Stinky tofu!!

Ha! Ha! Stinky tofu in Taiwan!!
Ha! Ha! Stinky tofu in Taiwan!!

No thanks!

Nearest station: Shilin, but get out at Jiantan train station instead!

Opening Times : 17:00-24:00

LOCAL FOOD AT TAIWANESE RESTAURANTS

Vegetables and mountains of tofu in Taiwan!
Vegetables and mountains of tofu in Taiwan
A selection of sauces, condiments, and spices. In Taiwan!
A selection of sauces, condiments, and spices. In Taiwan!
Rice and noodles with the steaming hot pot in the background!
Rice and noodles with the steaming hot pot in the background!

I went to a local restaurant late one night and had a hotpot of noodles, beef, and tofu. I went with two Americans and we didn’t really know what to do with all the stuff, so I asked two visitors from Malaysia!

You put all the stuff in the steaming hotpot, and eat with rice, noodles, or both!
You put all the stuff in the steaming hotpot, and eat with rice, noodles, or both!

You put all the stuff in the steaming hotpot, and eat with rice, noodles, or both!

Wash it all down with cider or beer!
Wash it all down with cider or beer!
Ice cold German imported beer!
Ice cold German imported beer!

German imported Blue Girl beer!

‘Nuff said!

ORGANIC TAIWANESE FOOD & DRINK

Enhanced fresh juice
Enhanced fresh juice
Sweet potato fries with spicy chipotle mayo dipping
Sweet potato fries with spicy chipotle mayo dipping
House caesar salad
House caesar salad

I wasn’t feeling at all well when I arrived in Taiwan, so I started my day at the amba Taipei Ximending with fresh organic food, a salad, and some chips, to make me feel at home! All the nore to get that boutique feeling which you can do, if you book your hotel here!

  • Cost of fruit juice: NT$170 or €5.70!
  • Cost of potato fries: NT$160 or €4.80!
  • Cost of salad: NT$220 or €6.50!

MY VERDICT:

Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience - Part II
Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part II

I really liked Taipei.

It’s lovely. It’s old. It’s got history, art and culture, and looks really modern. It’s not as cheap as South East Asian (SEA) countries, but is certainly reasonably priced.

If you’re looking for the next best East Asian city that’s safe, quiet, and away from the tourist throngs, you’ve found it.

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Utterly!

Because Taiwan has the feel of being Chinese, but itsn’t!

Let’s do it!

Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending 16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the steaming hotpots that I plunged into, are my very own!

Next week I’ll be writing about Christmas, and then returning to the Philippines later!

I’ll be joining the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, to celebrate Christmas on December 12th! I know! I’ve totally made it!!

In January, I’ll be going to Holland.

The British Shorts Film Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017.

At the end of January, I’ll be skiing in the Czech Republic.

Save the Date!

December is going to be sharp!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience - Part II
Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part II

Have you ever been to a night market? What do you think of bubble tea? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

So as you know, through the summer I’ve been travelling across Europe.

Yes indeed!

But why, you might ask?

Well, you know.

It’s the summer!

And even though Britain is out of the EU, I’m still European!

I'm the British Berliner - a British European. And I'm proud of it!
I’m the British Berliner – a British European.
And I’m proud of it!

What better thing to do than to travel through one of the world’s best continents – that’s right Europe!

If you want to read about ALL the countries that I’ve visited in the last two years, then just click here!

Oh, the summer!

Book your hotel here!

It's summer. Drink up!
It’s summer. Drink up!

My challenge was to visit a European city. Every weekend, through the summer holidays.

Every weekend!

For six (6) weeks!

And only to travel.

By train!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" didn't look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” didn’t look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!

So let’s see how we’re doing.

If you as lazy as I am (whaaaat!), I’m going to put the countries that I’ve been to, on Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign below:

DENMARK:

Eat Danish street food or visit Danish farmers' markets. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Ditte Isager
Eat Danish street food or visit Danish farmers’ markets.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Ditte Isager

I started off with Denmark and hopped off to Copenhagen.

Is Copenhagen a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Sort of a tick!

Copenhagen was great and you can read all about it below:

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SWITZERLAND:

A few paces away you would find cows in the field gently chewing away, in Lucerne!
A few paces away you would find cows in the field gently chewing away, in Lucerne!

I then went to Switzerland, and bounced into Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern!

Is Lucerne a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Yep! Tick!

Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern was brilliant, and you can read all about it just below:

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LUXEMBOURG:

After that, I went to Luxembourg.

Me in front of the Palace of the Frand Dukes. In August! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Me in front of the Palace of the Grand Dukes. In August!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Luxembourg was a new country for me, and I had heard lovely things about it, so I was pretty excited to visit!

Is Luxembourg a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Yep! Tick!

A most delicious Bosso Spätzle!
How to eat cheaply in Luxembourg!

Luxembourg was pretty impressive, and you can read all about it just below:

The next destination was Slovakia!

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SLOVAKIA

A historical castle in Slovakia!
A historical castle in Slovakia!

Slovakia, otherwise known as the Slovak Republic, is a country in Central Europe.

It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, and Hungary to the south. Slovakia’s territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres or 19,000 sq miles, and is mostly mountainous. The population is a little over 5 million!

The Slavs arrived in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 5th and 6th centuries. In the 10th century, the territory was integrated into the Kingdom of Hungary, which later became part of the Habsburg Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Slovaks and Czechs established Czechoslovakia, and on 1st January 1993, Slovakia became an independent state,  after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

A prime example of how two nations, even after separation, still live together and or are, connected to each other, without hate and strive!

Myself as lovely as Prague!

As you know, I used to live in the Czech Republic and whilst there, I lived briefly in Slovakia too!

In those days, there was hardly any difference at all, so I wanted to find out if it was still true!

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SHOULD YOU VISIT BRATISLAVA, OR STAY AT HOME AND NOT BOTHER!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Bratislava, is the capital of Slovakia.

Bratislava, for much of its history, was a three-language town. Its citizens spoke Slovak, Hungarian and German, and was always quite cosmopolitan in nature. Before 1919, Bratislava was known as Pressburg, Prešporok, Prešpurk, Pozsony, Břetislaw, Bratislav, and finally Bratislava!

Slovakia is a small country, so the capital has a population of just 450,000 – the largest city in the country!

Bratislava in southwestern Slovakia, occupies the banks of the River Danube and the left bank of the River Morava. It borders both  Austria and Hungary, and is the only capital city in the world that borders two independent countries, separated by just 66 kilometres!

All three capital cities are connected by the beautiful River Danube!
All three capital cities are connected by the beautiful River Danube!

Bratislava has been strongly influenced by people of different nations and religions, namely from Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Serbia, Hungary, and the Jewish nation. Not only that, but between 1867 and 1918, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary were parts of the same country, otherwise known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire!

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WHY GO TO BRATISLAVA?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Once again, my task?

To visit Bratislava. Sleep in Bratislava. Eat in Bratislava. With young boy tween in tow.

Here we go.

Whoopsie!

TAKE ME THERE?

The best way to travel through Europe is by train!
The best way to travel through Europe is by train!

Bratislava is a small city.

We came in by train.

As you know, Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign is to travel through the summer by train. Being that I live in Berlin, makes it an extremely easy way to travel.

In fact, travelling by train through the European continent is one of the most comfortable ways to travel with ease, from one country to the other. And by far, one of the cheapest!

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Think about your budget, and travel cheaply. By train!
Think about your budget, and travel cheaply.
By train!

The snag is to book tickets with the national train companies, directly. On their own websites, or through the German Rail otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn. Most websites have an English version. Some can be admittedly slightly hidden, but persevere, or contact them directly by calling, or via Email!

The cheapest way to ease into buying train tickets through most European countries (not all), is to actually book through the Deutsche Bahn portal on the local German English version not the UK or USA version! Note that for Germany, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland, if you’re going by train, I don’t recommend that you do so by InterRail or EuroRail passes, if you’re only travelling to one country, as the prices are ridiculously expensive and children have to be paid for!

Book your hotel here!

Don't suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Don’t suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Last year, I bought a twelve-hour direct train ticket from Berlin to Budapest. In first class for €69.00. Second class was just €10.00 cheaper at €59.00! My child was free of charge!

I bought a seven (7) hour train journey (second class) train ticket via the Hungarian Railways or MAV at a cost of 11,780 Ft or €38.40 to travel from Budapest to Prague. Child included in the cost!

I bought a five (5) hour train journey ticket (second class) to travel from Prague to Berlin. In August for just €29.00! And don’t forget, on the German inter-city Deutsche Bahn trains, children under 15 years old, travelling with their relatives, are free and cost nothing at all!

Use public transport. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Use public transport.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Our return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was just €58.00!

For Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Lucerne – Berlin, including reserved seating in July was just €98.00. My child was free!

For Luxembourg, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, again, and the twelve (12) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Luxembourg via Cologne and Koblenz – Berlin, including reserved seating in August was €116.00. My child was free!

For Slovakia, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, once again, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Bratislava – Berlin including reserved seating in August, was a mere €59.00. Yes €59.00! My child was free!

In a future post, I’ll be giving you tips as to how to prepare yourself when travelling on a European train!

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IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

A knight in the Old Town of Bratislava. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
A knight in the Old Town of Bratislava.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

I wouldn’t say so.

We went to Bratislava in August.

Of course you get the day-hopper tourists from Vienna and Budapest, and neighbouring Czechs, but most people haven’t a clue where Slovakia is. In fact, many confuse it with Slovenia.

Most people don’t know where Slovenia is either!

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WHAT IS BRATISLAVA LIKE?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Due to the long train journey, we were there for merely 2 days, but we’re used to that now!

Well, it isn’t Switzerland, that’s for sure, or Denmark!

I mean, Slovakia once used to be a part of Czechoslovakia, and it has a certain charm, but to be honest, it’s not anything like Prague either!

It’s a bit gritty, but not like Berlin.

It’s got that old ex-Soviet Union look, but not like Riga.

In my opinion the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ - Bratislava Main Train Station - is a national disgrace! ©rail.cc
In my opinion the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ – Bratislava Main Train Station – is a national disgrace! ©rail.cc

It’s a bit rough-looking, and the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ main railway station, unlike the main train station in Porto, is a disgrace!

Bratislava has presence, but is not very well looked after!

In fact, “The Tall Young Gentleman” wasn’t in the least impressed, but I’m putting it down to the fact that just the weekend prior, we were in a luxury hotel in Luxembourg, and he was treated like a king!

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I DON’T SPEAK SLOVAKIAN!

The local folk of Bratislava, in Slovakia!
The local folk of Bratislava, in Slovakia!

Not a problem.

Most people speak English, but if you can speak Czech, German, Russian or Hungarian, you’ll be fine!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

Not quite! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Not quite!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Nah!

Thanks to Bratislava’s excellent location on the border of three countries, accommodation ranges from quite simple to award-winning boutique hotels, so  it won’t be necessary for you to live in a cave!

I had previously wanted to go the boutique route like I did in Warsaw, but the prices they were asking bordered on the ridiculous, so a hostel it was then!

Book your hostel here!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

I'm on a budget. I could sing for my supper! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
I’m on a budget. I could sing for my supper!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Whenever we go on a family holiday, I like to mix things up a little in order to experience a wide variety of accommodation possibilities, to meet the locals, and to stretch our budget in a more comfortable way.

In Copenhagen, I decided to book a family friendly budget hotel. In Lucerne, we went for the cheap and cheerful option of a hostel.

I like comfort, and I’m not averse to a little splendour every now and then so in Luxembourg, we went upscale to a very lovely luxury hotel.

But being that we wanted to be smart, we decided to take the simple route of a hostel, once again!

Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!
Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!

We went to Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel.

Downtown Backpacker’s is a hostel situated in the historical quarter of the city, and the first hostel in the country!

It’s located 15 minutes walking distance from the main train station, and is one minute from the Presidential Palace!

I had booked a private twin room of course, as I liked the idea of paintings on the wall. We were put on the top floor and into what would have been the best room in the hostel – Mucha – as the private double room also came with it’s own balcony.

No one was able to open our private balcony at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratsilava, so we had to look through from afar!
No one was able to open our private balcony at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, so we had to look through, from afar!

Sadly, no one was able to open it, and so we looked through what would have been our private balcony, with our private outdoor table, where we would have watched our private sunset, whilst I sipped a glass of Slovakian wine as I wrote my blog!

But it was not to be, as the balcony door lock was broken!

Sigh!

Our bedroom at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!
Our bedroom at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!

Our room came with two single bed and bedsheets already laid out, two large wardrobe-like lockers, two chairs, two standing lamps, a glass table, a large private balcony with a further four chairs, paintings, illustrations, advertisements, postcards, and designs, dotted all over the room, and free WiFi.

There were side plugs, but only on one side of the room, so “The Tall Young Gentleman” wasn’t in the least pleased!

The hostel had a large fully-equipped kitchen, a small dining room, a terrace that turns into a garden, a library, a piano, a large common TV, a dryer, a washing machine, and a very comfy large common room, which for some reason, one man spent every night sleeping in! And shared bathrooms and toilets on every floor.

The bathroom on the lower floor is nicer, and larger!

A free shot of vodka isn't a bad thing!
A free shot of vodka isn’t a bad thing!

There’s also a free shot, free tea and coffee, and a really nice paid breakfast with a 10% discount, if you’re a hostel guest!

We paid €50.00 per night.

It was a nice hostel, and the hostel staff were great and extremely warm and friendly. Highly recommended.

Tick!

Book your hostel here!

I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Most likely!

But you’re going to have to do your own research!

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BUT WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO BRATISLAVA?

But what should I dooooooo? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
But what should I dooooooo?
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

There is plenty to do Bratislava.

I would even go as far as saying, you should spend at least two (2) days in order to get a real feel of the city.  You can:

Go on a walking tour in the Old Town. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Go on a walking tour in the Old Town.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
  • Go on a free walking tour. We went with a little outfit called Be Free Tours
  • Make your own independent walking tour. Pick up free maps in your hostel and hotel, and just take off! It’s really not that difficult!
  • Explore the history and architecture of Bratislava
  • Get your camera out and take a selfie with Čumil peeking out of the manhole, or Schöne Náci in a tall hat and tails!
  • Put on your walking shoes and climb up to Bratislava Castle and take in the view. They sometimes have a night show too!
  • Wander round the cobbled streets of the Old Town, and just get lost!
  • Go to the Town Hall and visit the most impressive Bratislava City Museum  – the oldest museum in Slovakia!
  • Go to St. Martin’s Cathedral and as many other churches as you can manage!
Take photographs with Čumil and wander at will! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Take photographs with Čumil and wander at will!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
  • Take photographs and buy souvenirs at Michael’s Gate – the only preserved gate left – dating back to the 14th century!
  • Visit the Jewish Synagogue and the Jewish Community Museum
  • Walk by the riverside
  • Peep into every corner, and walk onto every little path that you see. And why not?
  • Join in the summer celebrations
  • Go people-watching
  • Check out the various cafes, bars and restaurants, for a quick bite of rustic Slovakian sausages!
  • Relax , take a break, and have a Slovakian beer!

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WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are so closely connected that you can easily travel between them! p.s. Not by the alpine lift obviously!
Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are so closely connected that you can easily travel between them!
p.s. Not by the alpine lift obviously!

Bratislava is small. Everywhere is walkable, but local trams, buses, and cruises are simple to use.

In the olden days, the capital cities of Austria and Hungary were so close, that they were connected by a tram line!

Sadly, after World War II, the tram line was closed down!

Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest are connected by the river Danube via a cruise ferry, and there are frequent bus and train connections. In fact, many tourists happily go from at least one of these countries to the other, on a day-trip.

Isn’t that marvellous!

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ANYTHING ELSE?

Even though we're tourists, stop cheating us! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Even though we’re tourists, stop cheating us!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Prices are extremely cheap, but do double-check your bill.

We had lunch in the Old Town and we were over-charged twice! One restaurant even had the cheek to charge the complete bill of their local Slovakian mates, from the next table!

My suspicions were raised when the bill started with the butter that I ordered, but never received…..!

MY VERDICT:

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Bratislava is a European historical city, mixed with forgotten reminders of a socialist past.

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

We wouldn't go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you're in the region, why not? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
We wouldn’t go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you’re in the region, why not?
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

I wouldn’t go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you’re in the region, take a day or two and visit, or go to the countryside, which I hear is amazing!

If you’re on a budget, stay in Bratislava and commute to Vienna instead.

But as always, don’t just read the papers, or listen to hearsay.

Go see for yourself.

Europe is wonderful!

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Quit your job! Don't quit your job! Travel through Europe! Don't travel through Europe!
Quit your job! Don’t quit your job! Travel through Europe! Don’t travel through Europe!

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing about Slovakian food, art and films in Berlin, travels to the German Baltic Sea, as well as a comprehensive post on how to use the train in Europe!

In October, I’ll be preparing to go to the TBEX ASIA travel conference in the Philippines, and an extra Asian country, but I’m still not sure where, but heavily leaning towards a Chinese-speaking country!

In November, I’ll be travelling to Austria.

Yay!

Book your hotel here!

SHOULD YOU VISIT BRATISLAVA, OR STAY AT HOME AND NOT BOTHER!

The Old Town in Slovakia. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
The Old Town in Slovakia.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the most delicious Slovakian sausage that we gobbled up, are my very own!

STRICTLY STAND UP – The English Comedy Night is going to take place on 21.09.16 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

I’ll also be attending an exclusive GOLUM! Preview Social Meetup at the Jewish Museum in Berlin!

Save the Date!

September is going to be thrilling!

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

If you’re not in Berlin in September, I can’t imagine where else you would be!

Breakfast in Slovakia!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Have you ever been to Slovakia? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother? Have your say!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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