How to live in Dresden. For longer than a day!

How to live in Dresden. For longer than a day.

So Dresden.

A Baroque Old Town.

A garden suburb.

A cultural metropolis.

What a beautiful city!

As I told you last week, Dresden has a long rich history as the capital and royal residence of the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendor, and was once known as the Jewel Box of Germany, because of it’s Old Town city centre which is crammed with baroque and rococo architecture.

Sadly, when the international community think of Dresden, they make no mention of German splendour and historical treasures, but rather the horror of the Second World War!

War is a terrible thing, and Dresden paid the price.

Towards the end of World War II, Dresden was pretty much flattened and destroyed, and became unrecognisable.

After the war, restoration work helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city, including the Dresden Cathedral, the Zwinger Museum Complex and the very famous Semper Oper.

Victoria at the River Elbe in Dresden – Germany
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

Outside of the Old Town, Dresden has a trendy New Town – Neustadt – a nearby Saxon Switzerland National Park, the Ore Mountains which borders both Germany and the Czech Republic, the Moritzburg Castle, impressive countryside around the Elbe Valley, etc.

And.

It’s.

A.

Waterside City with the River Elbe running right through it.

Yeah!

Germans are enormously open-minded so nude beaches as Freikörperkultur, or FKK movement – Free Body Culture, was set up
©Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1984-0828-411A / Settnik, Bernd / CC-BY-SA 3.0

I hadn’t visited Dresden in more than twenty (20) years, and when I first visited, my German boyfriend at the time tried to persuade me to join him, at one of the family-friendly nudist Free Body Culture (FKK) beaches.

With his friends!

As if!

I did however, agree to join him alone.

And only him.

I was very conscious of the fact that people would stare at my body.

They did!

I was the only person wearing items of “clothing.”

With chocolate-brown skin.

Wearing a bikini.

That was bright yellow!

You could see Victoria – in her bright yellow bikini – from the moon!

You could see me from the moon!

Cue 2018.

Like Hamburg, I had of course, breezed through, on my way to Prague, but I hadn’t stopped there for a very long time.

Dresden was better than I ever hoped.

Exciting Times in Dresden – Forgive the casual look. I was previously wearing heels!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – March 2018

Last week, I told you what to do if you’re a tourist. But what if you wanted to stay a little longer?

A couple of days. A week. Perhaps, even for a few weeks!

Make no mistake, I’d still highly recommend Berlin as your go-to-city, but if you insist, Dresden will do just fine!

The Tall Young Gentleman had a fine time in Dresden. You will too!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

Being that my new job as the Referent Interne Trainings or the Internal Training Manager, is in Dresden, I’ve been doing a lot of research which has not only been exhausting, but pretty expensive too! 

Having said that, my experience has allowed me to stay in a wide variety of accommodation providers spanning from a collection of hotels, apartments, and even a hostel!

Yep!

I do these things, so that you don’t have to!

I know!

Let’s get started, shall we?

WHY VISIT DRESDEN?

Martin Luther in Dresden

Why not?!

Well, I wrote quite a bit about it last week.

And anyway, Dresden is in Germany!

So what?

You really can’t go wrong there.

Why not?

Well, it’s Germany!

TAKE ME THERE?

I’ve used FlixBus for both local & international travel. Great prices!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel. However, depending on where you’re coming from, taking the bus / coach might actually be cheaper. And far more efficient!

I’ve been taking FlixBus, and their prices have been marvellous.

At one point, I actually took a bus for €4.99!

The average price is usually between €6.00 – €10.00, depending on how flexible you can travel.

I’ve used FlixBus for both local (within Germany), and international travel, and if you’re on a budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything cheaper!

I was having a fine time flying all over Europe, thank you very much!

Of course, if you’re coming from abroad, flying might prove more economical.

Dresden is quite a small city, so you might actually find yourself either flying to Dresden Airport (DRS), Leipzig-Halle Airport (LEJ), Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) or perhaps, even Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (SXF)!

If you’re not sure which airport in Berlin, you’re supposed to be flying to or out of, here’s a link to the website of Flughafen / Airport Berlin Brandenburg GmbH which has comprehensive information on both airports BerlinTegel (TXL) and Berlin-Schönefeld (SXF) as they’re at opposite ends of the city, and you don’t want to find yourself in the wrong one!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

There are tourists in Dresden. But I wouldn’t call it crowded!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

I didn’t think so!

In fact, as it wasn’t yet “the season,” some places and operations were still closed or had reduced hours.

But in the summer, prepare to gird your loins, and fight your way through!

Plan well.

WHAT IS DRESDEN LIKE?

Frederick Augustus II of Saxony or Augustus II the Strong – the Golden Rider!

I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s a small city of historical and architectural interest, the food and beer is impressive.

And it’s very, very pretty!

I DON’T SPEAK GERMAN.

How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

Not. A. Problem.

No really.

No worries.

It’s amazing how many languages a typical European speaks.

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

If you speak English, German, Russian, or Chinese, you’re good to go.

And get this.

I couldn’t believe it!

Most things were written in German.

And.

English!

Hurrah!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

You’re not going to live in this abandoned hut, so don’t worry!

Ha! Ha! Not unless you want to!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

At the tip of the River Elbe and the Elberadweg cycle path, in Altpieschen – Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – May 2018

Ha! Let me help you here.

Dresden isn’t as cheap as I was expecting.

If you’re from the UK or the US, it’s as cheap as chips, obviously.

If you’re from Germany, food prices are the same as in Berlin, but accommodation was far cheaper!

I mean, I was able to get a studio apartment with two (2) bedrooms, a small kitchen / dining room, and an en-suite bathroom for just €30.00 a night.

Thirty Euros (€30.00) a night!

And it wasn’t via Airbnb, but booking.com

But before we go any further, let me reiterate:

I am an affiliate partner of booking.com. In fact, if you use any of my hotel / apartment links, you’ll see the verified partner symbol of the British Berliner logo, along with each affiliated link. 

This means that every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at absolutely no extra cost to yourself!

None of the hotels / hostels / apartments that I used were comped, or sponsored. All were paid for, absolutely by myself! As a result, you’ll also see my honest and verified view of what I thought when I stayed there, as a legitimate customer too.

Thanks a million!

Here’s all the variety of places where I stayed:

HOSTELS:

The Königssuite – Kings Suite at LaLeLu Hostel in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – May 2018

It’s a boutique “mini-hostel” with just seven (7) rooms, which was why I booked it!

It’s in the trendy hip Äußere Neustadt, otherwise known as Antonstadt and just a 20 minute walk from the AltStadt! In fact, when I got there, I immediately felt quite at home!

I was in the Königssuite or the Kings Suite which was a romantic suite covered with gold and lots of red!

The bathroom and lovely kitchen is shared, but there’s a fee for bed sheets and towels.

Excellent WiFi!

I paid €39.00 per night for a private double room suite. If there’s two of you, that’s €19.50 a pop!

BED & BREAKFAST / GUEST HOUSES / PENSIONS:

The Hotel Pension zu Dresden Altpieschen in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – May 2018

I was there for a week and really wished I could have stayed longer!

It’s a 1901-ish charming Guest House that is in the lovely district of Pieschen, about a 10 minute walk from the AltStadt, a 10 minute tram-ride to the NeuStadt, and a mere 250 metres from the river Elbe!

My room was in the loft, was absolutely huge, and had 20th century wooden beams features everywhere. I also had my own landing, my own staircase, and my own entrance door that could be securely locked!

I had a huge bathroom that was so big I couldn’t reach the mirror, so they had to had to get me a small one, for my tiny height!

A fridge was included, complete with a bottle of water!

Everything was delightful, except for the WiFi.

Quite adequate for your average tourist, but utterly useless for someone like me!

I paid €42.00 per night for a spacious loft. If there’s two of you, that’s €22.00 a pop!

Highly recommended!

The Pension Dresdener Berge in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

I couldn’t believe how cheap, but safe, the Pension / Bed and Breakfast would be!

This was my first hotel in Dresden, and if I had known then what I know now, I would have blocked-booked it, as I never got that fantastic price ever again!

In fact, I wasn’t even able to get the studio apartment either, as someone had booked it!

I highly recommend it as a budget option for 1 person, a couple, or a couple with a child!

I had a 2-bedroom studio apartment for just €30.00 a night!

It had a large bedroom, a small bedroom for a child, a small kitchen / dining room, and an en-suite bathroom.

Excellent WiFi!

I paid €30.00 per night for a 2-bedroom studio apartment. If there’s two of you, that’s €15.00 a pop, and your child is totally free of charge!

Book ahead!

APARTMENTS:

The work of a lifestyle, expat, travel blogger is never done. There’s just so much to dooo!

I stayed at two (2) different hotel – apartments. And one of them, I even stayed at twice!

The Hotel & Apartment Altstadtperle in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

With houses dated from the last century and older, genteel street lamps, and 300 year old churches scattered everywhere, it was no wonder that I found the quiet neighbourhood appealing.

I stayed in two different apartments at this hotel, and they were always quite large with a huge bathroom, and a small kitchen. And the cleaner came in every day!

I loved the hotel itself, the location was fantastic, and my apartment was great.

But the staff were lazy, and the WiFi pretty much non-existent. They also wouldn’t waive the City Tax even though they were supposed to!

I stayed here twice spanning almost two (2 weeks), as I really thought that the issues were a one-off.

They weren’t!

If you’re on holiday, it’s a really lovely apartment-hotel and I’d recommend it, but if you’re on a business trip, book somewhere else!

I paid €40.50 initially, and the following week I paid €46.08 per night. For two people, €20.25 and €23.04 a pop!

Stirl Apartments in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

My husband – The Music Producer and our son came to visit me in Dresden, so I booked a larger apartment in a residential area.

It had a fully equipped kitchen and dining room, a bedroom, a third bed, a sofabed, and a very nice bathroom!

The third bed was in our bedroom, but “The Tall Young Gentleman” was horrified when he saw it, so we used the sofabed in the “living room area” instead!

WiFi was excellent!

It was a little further away from the action than we would have wanted, but the neighbourhood was very quiet and peaceful.

We paid €85.00 per night which for three people would be €28.50 a pop!

SMALL HOTELS:

The Hotel Windsor in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – May 2018
  • I stayed at the Hotel Windsor which is a very nice small hotel, which had the look of grandeur, but at surprisingly, “small budget” prices!

I had an en-suite bathroom, a double bed, a tiny writing-table and my own balcony.

Excellent WiFi!

I paid just €37.52 which is even less than I paid for the hostel above!

TRENDY FANCY HOTELS:

Aparthotel Am Schloss in Dresden.
©booking.com

It’s a hotel which is famous for it’s architecture, location, service and facilities.

It’s right in the center of the AltStadt, about 350 meters away from the Zwinger Palace in Dresden, and a few minutes from the Frauenkirche with the castle very, very close by!

We unfortunately couldn’t stay here as I had accidentally pre-booked Stirl Apartment as a last cheaper resort, just in case we couldn’t get the Aparthotel Am Schloss, and then I forgot!

I only remembered when I got a message stating that my reservation was now booked. Oops!

While we were in the AltStadt, I had a quick peek inside the Aparthotel Am Schloss.

It was exactly as I would have wished, and we really would have loved staying there!

Even though it was far more expensive than the hotels that I had previously been to, I would have preferred it, for the mere fact that it was exactly where we wanted to be.

In the Old Town!

It would have been €117 per night, but very much worth it!

Book ahead to get good prices.

I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?

Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t look for an adventure!

Sure!

The AltStadt is the historical part of town, but the The NeuStadt is a grungy hipster sort of place. It’s for the young and trendy, but you don’t have to be young or trendy to visit, and it’s not Copenhagen or Amsterdam, so you can definitely take your children!

There’s a lot of free stuff happening in the city. Most of the available info is in German, but if you check the website of Visit Dresden on a regular basis, keep your eyes open, or just ask a local where you can meet other locals, you’ll find them!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Like any other typical German town, public transport in Dresden, is pretty efficient!

Dresden isn’t as large as Berlin, and as such public transport is like any other typical German town – trams, buses, ferries, and overland trains.

And like any other typical German town, public transport is pretty efficient.

When using public transport, there are many possibilities to buy a ticket. You can buy:

A variety of Dresden public transport tickets!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018
  • A short-trip ticket – €1.70
  • A single ticket – €2.30
  • A day ticket – €6.00
  • A four (4) journey ticket – €8.20
  • A family day ticket – €9.00
  • A small group ticket – €15.00
  • A weekly pass – €21.50
  • A monthly pass – €60.50
  • A season ticket (per month) – €50.90

I have bought them all, and since I’m a regular in Dresden, I decided to buy a season ticket to cut down on cost and for flexibility!

There are ticket machines pretty much everywhere, so you can buy your ticket whenever and wherever you want!

The ticket machine accepts cash, EC cards, and pretty much, most “recognised” credit cards!

As in Berlin, you buy your ticket and either validate it by clicking the ticket on a blue-standing object, which you’ll find on the train platform BEFORE you actually get on the train, or if using trams and buses, look for a sort of orange-standing object which is not far from the doorway, as soon as you get on.

Don’t forget, as in Berlin, there are no barriers to using public transport. However, there are random inspector checks, and if you are found NOT to have a valid ticket, the penalty is €60.00. Or more!

Dresden VVO – DVB public transport info & season ticket!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – May 2018

So in order to keep German public transport a non-barrier one, please buy your ticket!

The marvellous thing about using the trams and buses in Dresden is that they actually have information on the monitor display INSIDE the tram or bus stating the name of the next stop, the details of the next available buses, trams, and train numbers at the stop, as well as how long the waiting time would be!

The frequency isn’t every 3-5 minutes as in Berlin, but the monitor display tells you all the information that you need to know, so that you can make choices as to which transport provider to use.

Great stuff!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Lovely hotels, but why are there no Reception Desks?!

Surprisingly, most places in Dresden don’t actually have a Reception Desk!

And if they do, it isn’t manned or even open!

You generally have to let them know when you’re going to arrive so that they’ll be there to meet you, but if you arrive after-hours there’s a telephone number to call or instructions as to how to get the key, which is usually in some sort of secure coded box near by.

Oh, and just so you know, the City of Dresden also puts a Tourism Tax of €1.30 per person. Per night!

However, if you’re in Dresden for business reasons (and can prove it), the tax is waived.

MY VERDICT:

The Music Producer & Victoria at the Zwinger Palace in Dresden – Saxony!
©Frank Böster – Behind The Couch Studios – Dresden – April 2018

We quite like Dresden!

Dresden has culture, and a vibrant history.

For many international visitors, Dresden isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, unless it’s Christmas.

Because Dresden Stollen!

But if you’re in Saxony region, make it a point of duty to spend a few weeks days, in Dresden or as many as the surrounding area, as you can manage.

If you’re looking for a new destination in East Germany, and you’ve “done” Berlin (As if!), say hello – DRESDEN!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Obviously!

My office is in Dresden, so I sort of have to!

Let’s do it!

HOW TO LIVE IN DRESDEN. FOR LONGER THAN A DAY!

Tea for everyone!
How to live in Dresden. For longer than a day!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and all the beds that I bounced up and down on, are my very own!

Next week, the last post on Dresden!

And in a few weeks, I’ll be revealing my next summer trip!

Stay tuned.

Yay!

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

The Lighthouse of Moritzburg – Saxony.
How to live in Dresden. For longer than a day!

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 to live in Dresden. For longer than a day!

Have you ever lived in Dresden? Do you prefer hostels, pensions, guest houses, B&B’s, apartments, or hotels`? Would you know how to navigate yourself around trams, trains, buses & horses?! 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

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

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How to go to Bangkok on the superior cheap, and take the family with you!

A beautiful temple in Thailand so, where are you?
A beautiful temple in Thailand so, where are you?

Last week, I wrote that I couldn’t join in the Commonwealth Games because I had other plans…!

OK guys. Surrrrrprise!

We went to Bangkok.

And Chiang Mai.

And Bali.

I’m sorry, but we also spent a night in Doha, Qatar.

For free!

Yep! Yep! Yep!!

But how did this happen, you might ask? She didn’t even mention it!

A lovely blue tuk-tuk in a residential area in Bangkok.
A lovely blue tuk-tuk in a residential area in Bangkok.

Well, if you have been reading my blog you would know that I would be going to Asia for some part of the summer, I just didn’t say when. You know. Insurance n’ all that. And as much as it was a surprise for you, it was also a surprise for The Music Producer, and “The Tall Young Gentleman,” as they had never been to Asia before.

Ever.

Oh, but I lie. They’ve been to Turkey of course, but it’s not the same. I mean the Asian subcontinent.

Green coffee beans. lots of green coffee beans. And poo!
Green coffee beans. lots of green coffee beans. And poo!

They both loved it and had a fantastic time.

We didn’t get scammed.

Well, just on the last day.

We didn’t get robbed.

Well, except for the price of wine. Daylight robbery!

We didn’t have Delhi Belly except that I had Bangkok Belly on the second (2nd) day, and Bali Belly, on the last day, oh, and The Music Producer became ill. More about that in a later post……!

Bangkok - a complicated, tangled city!
Bangkok – a complicated, tangled city!

Considering that we were on the other side of the world, we had hardly any trouble at all because:

  1. This trip was organised by a more experienced person – ME!
  2. I put in a lot of time in order to maximise and enhance the Asian experience.
  3. They went in with pure open minds.
  4. They weren’t afraid to ask questions.
  5. They tried to taste everything. At least once!

Now don’t get me wrong. My family travel, but they are not like me. And that’s OK.

The Asian lifestyle with a Buddhist monk in Bangkok! Can you see what's different?
The Asian lifestyle with a Buddhist monk in Bangkok! Can you see what’s different?

I’ve been to Asia many times, practically most of Western Europe (except for Greece), parts of North Africa, West Africa, and South Africa, the USA, one (1) Caribbean island, and I used to live in Eastern Europe.

By the time our son was 5 years old, he had already been to twenty-three (23) countries. None of them in Asia. Then international school beckoned which meant running around with skiing, music, theatre, martial arts, Boy Scouts, a stint of modelling, and so many life changes.

Stability was going to France or Scotland! My husband preferred Italy and the opera, but I have a great husband, and whenever I needed to “take off,” I would go to Asia. So every couple of years, with the help of the German grandparents, I would go on a solo adventure to satisfy my soul. This time, I decided to take my family with me.

Taking the family with me to Bangkok, in Thailand!
Taking the family with me to Bangkok, in Thailand!

It. Was. Time.

Time to share why I love Asia so much.

At first, I thought, let’s go to India. That’ll be exciting!! Yeah, but that’s also selfish since I wanted to go to India.

Again.

So I back-tracked and decided to think of my boys, instead of myself. Yes, I can be selfish. And yes, I had the opportunity to open their eyes to the world of colours, tastes, smells, and unpredictability.

Oh, I forgot to tell you. My husband otherwise known as The Music Producer, is German, and he isn’t 25 years old anymore.

I love my husband and want him to have a good time and be comfortable doing so, so I decided to choose the middle road.

A loving husband, in Thailand!
A loving husband, in Thailand!

 

CHOOSING THE MIDDLE ROAD.

I’ve slept in a mixed hostel in Prague for $3.00 per night, a hostel on the Isle of Skye for $21.00 per night. I’ve slept in a “deluxe” hotel in Delhi for $19.00 per night, and a hotel in Africa for $6.00 per night. Hell, I’ve even slept in a casino ‘cos all the hostels were booked up on the 30th of December….!

I know the meaning of cheap.

But I didn’t want to do cheap. I also didn’t want to do exquisite luxury as this was a family holiday, and not a couples romantic weekend, where I’m willing to pay much, much, more, for that extra splurge. Say hello Milan, London, and New York!!

So the idea of what I coin “the superior cheap,” came into play.

Our last night in Bangkok, hotel - The 5 - star Amari Watergate Hotel, Bangkok. 'Such a shame that we only had 1 day and half a night to spend in it. Sigh!
Our last night in Bangkok, hotel – The 5 – star Amari Watergate Hotel, Bangkok. ‘Such a shame that we only had 1 day and half a night to spend in it. Sigh!

 

HOW TO GO TO BANGKOK ON THE SUPERIOR CHEAP.

  • Use a travel agency: What? It contradicts everything you’ve been working for re-cheap. But hear me out, and think again. We wanted to go from Berlin – Bangkok – Bali – Berlin. In August. If you check the prices of Berlin – Bali – Berlin, it’s outrageous. Yes, Bangkok is much cheaper, but I wanted to move around. We were thus able to get our return flights for just a little over €800 or $1100 via STA – the Student Travel Agency in Berlin. I’ve been booking with them since 2005, and they’ve always come up trumps.
"The Tall Young Gentleman" having fun in Bangkok.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.
  • Use a scheduled airline: We booked with Qatar Airways, and the flight schedule changed. The airline with the help of STA, organised a hotel, transfer, food, etc. for FREE! We didn’t have to do a thing.
  • Make the hotel bookings yourself: I did a lot of research and read posts by other bloggers who were either in the country or region that I wanted to go to, or had just left. I contacted the hotels and home-stays concerned, and told them where, and how I had found them. It inspires confidence that the writings of bloggers work. Real people who could become potential customers, read them.
Thai pickles - Don't pack them too full!
Thai pickles – Don’t pack them too full!
  • Don’t pack the days too full: We all know how tiring it can be when we pack our day full as if there’s no tomorrow, and we also all know the end result: tiredness, frustration, and tears! We decided to take things easy when we initially arrived as it’s good for your budget, and it’s good for you. The day after we landed, we walked around our Bangkok neighbourhood, and then we went swimming. That’s all we did for that day!
  • Have a budget, but be flexible: We decided on a budget of €100 or $132 per day all in. It could be a little less or it could be a little more, and that’s perfectly alright. We’re on holiday and life is for living, and not denying yourself because it’s too expensive. I mean, when are you going to do or buy that “thing”? If it’s your dream, go ahead and do it. You can cut something out somewhere else.
See how beautiful she is. She packed her stuff smartly. No worries at all!
See how beautiful she is. She packed her stuff smartly. No worries at all!
  • Pack smartly: We had a 30 kilo allocation. Thank you Qatar Airways, but we were still flying within Thailand with budget airlines Nok Air from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on 15 kilos and from Thailand to Bali with budget airline AirAsia, for 20 kilos. Packing smartly made sense. I’m not the best packer. I’m usually the girl with 4 pairs of shoes, and a pair of boots. Just in case! This time though, I was strict – three (3) lots of trousers, shorts, summer dresses, “nice” dresses, T-shirts, underwear, and sigh. Three (3) lots of shoes!
  • Buy toiletries in your home-country: I know that Asia is cheap, that’s true, but if you have kids, I’d recommend getting toiletries in your home-country BEFORE you leave. Things such as tissue paper, disinfectant, detergent, sun-cream, cleansers, wipes, insect repellent, moisturisers, shower gel, shampoo, plasters, etc. are superior, and don’t have extra chemical agents included, and they’re certainly much cheaper! We tried to buy a nasal spray that usually costs $4.00 in Germany, but shockingly cost $26.00 in Indonesia!
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!
  • Eat everything, everywhere: If you’re travelling to a developing country for the first time, you might be shocked by how disorganised things seem to be. Don’t worry about it, and don’t look too deeply. Try not to criticise. It’s another culture. Take it all in. Breathe. Go to that dusty stall on the side of the street. Sit down. Eat and Drink. You won’t die. You might get an upset tummy the first few days, but you won’t die. You might even like it!
Check the weather if it's important to you. Waterlilies in peak season in Bali, Indonesia.
Check the weather if it’s important to you.
Waterlilies in peak season in Bali, Indonesia.
  • Try to go off-season: That wasn’t an option for us as we have a pre-teenager and Germany frowns on taking kids out during the academic year. Even though it was the summer holidays, “The Tall Young Gentleman” was given school work to do during the holiday in order to “improve certain weaknesses.” He wasn’t happy about it, but we did it anyway. August in Thailand is monsoon season. Surprisingly, it wasn’t very busy. In Indonesia, it’s peak season, in my eyes, it wasn’t as busy as I expected it to be either. In fact, at one point in Bali, we went to the beach, and it was pretty empty of an afternoon!
This smiling couple is everywhere in Thailand! Ah well, you can always come back. You're welcome!
This smiling couple is everywhere in Thailand! Ah well, you can always come back.
You’re welcome!
  • Don’t worry: If you run out of time, don’t worry, you can always come back. I like going back to places. I don’t subscribe to the “I’m-never-going-to-go-back-there-again-because-I’ve-already-been” school of thought. If I like the place, I go back again, and again, and again: cue Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Scotland, the Isle of Wight, Denmark, Egypt, France, Spain, Thailand, Indonesia, America, etc. I can’t count how many times I’ve been to the above countries. I’ve included America here even though I’ve been only once as we plan to go to America in 2015 AND 2016!
  • Have fun: Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. You’re on holiday or on a break in the Land of Smiles, surrounded by beautiful, attractive people, and gorgeous weather. Smile, and Relax.
"The Tall Young Gentleman" living the good life and relaxing by the pool in Bali, Indonesia.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” living the good life and relaxing by the pool in Bali, Indonesia.

This article is not sponsored and all opinions, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so for the rest of August, and the month of September only, I will be writing about our adventures in Thailand, Indonesia, and Qatar and at the same time, keeping you posted as to the fantastic things going on in the wonderful city of Berlin.

Berlin Music Week is going to take place from 03.09.14 – 07.09.14. Berlin is going to show it’s unique mix of music and technology, festivals and club events on a world stage with two core events: the WORD! conference for business and SOUND! for live events.

STRICTLY STAND UP – The English Comedy Night is going to take place on 10.09.14 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

November 9th, 2014, marks the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Events are taking place all over the city until then.

September is going to be a beautiful month.

Watch this space!
Thai kids playing football.
Thai kids playing football.

Choosing the Middle Road on The Superior Cheap. What do you think? Would you like to go to Asia?

Are you coming for the autumn?

See you in Berlin.

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Sometimes, it’s alright to admit that hotels are better than hostels!

We’re in Inverness – Scotland – so go on then, admit it. Sometimes, it’s alright to admit that hotels are better than hostels!

We recently returned from our family holiday Scotland trip and because summer was brilliant in Berlin, we decided to stay at home and go on holiday later in the year – cue – Autumn.

I love travelling and my favourite places have been the Czech Republic, Poland, Ireland, Wales, France, Italy, America, Hong Kong, Bali, and Vietnam.

My family under the waterfall in Yosemite National Park - USA
My family under the waterfall in Yosemite National Park – USA

The crazy places have been India and Andorra!

The places that I haven’t liked have been the Dominican Republic, South Africa and Singapore!

We are a family of travellers and in the past five years alone, we’ve been to France, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Wales, England, the Isle of Wight, the United States and of course, different parts of Germany. In some situations, we visited these countries a few more times again as we absolutely love Italy, spend our summers on the Polish Baltic Sea and go skiing in the Giant Mountains of the Czech Republic.

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On the Polish Baltic Sea
On the Polish Baltic Sea

In 2012, we went skiing in the Czech Republic for the winter, England in the Spring, Tuscany, Italy in the summer, and Brandenburg, Germany in the Autumn.

Horse-riding in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.
Horse-riding in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

In 2013, we went to London for the winter, Osnabrück (Germany) in the Spring, stayed in Berlin for the summer and where did we go for the autumn – The Highlands in Scotland!

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I'm a Scottish Viking!
I’m a Scottish Viking!

It’s been five years since we last went to Scotland and then it was the holiday period in which our son (now to be known as The Tall Young Gentleman and I spent quality time alone together.

Believe it or not but I am what is known as “an older yummy mummy” as such, it’s important to me that my time is utilised in as qualitative a way as I can, bearing in mind that I’m also a career woman. In that wise, my husband and I – otherwise known as The Music Producer also spend some adult time together alone when “The Tall Young Gentleman” is at summer camp in the Bavarian part of Germany, on a school trip with the American boy scouts or with his grandparents in Northern Germany.

Generally, the three of us spend our main holidays together as a family.

Now depending where we are going and when, accommodation can differ. When my husband and I travel alone, its glamour and champagne all the way, with “The Tall Young Gentleman,” it’s a mixed bag of bed and breakfasts, hostels and hotels and whenever I travelled alone in the old days, I went as cheap as I possibly could. At one point, my hostel room was mixed with both males and females…..

This time around as I said previously, our family holiday was in Scotland. I am the Chief Organiser when it comes to our family time so of course; I had booked flights at the beginning of the year and started making enquiries about where we were going to go and for how long. In 2014, we are going long-haul to Asia for our much postponed honeymoon LOL! As a result, our 2013 budget had to be as cheap as we could possibly make it.

We decided to spend some of our holiday with my younger brother and his family in Cheshire, England.

I had booked flights with Easyjet at a return flight cost of about €300 for us all. In hindsight, it might well have been better to book a scheduled flight……

I’m doing a Masters at the University of Chester in which I commute from Berlin to Chester roughly every six weeks. My 1st semester course happened to coincide with the weekend that we were supposed to go on our holiday so I had to change my flight at a (luckily?) cost of €43.00 and leave two days earlier…..I was a little worried as this is the first time that The Music Producer and The Tall Young Gentleman would fly without me and while our son has a British passport, my husband has a German one….

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"The Music Producer" and "The Tall Young Gentleman" in Scotland.
“The Music Producer” and “The Tall Young Gentleman” in Scotland.

A lone man travelling with a child from one country to the next, doesn’t look good so I wrote a letter giving him permission to take our son outside the country with a copy of my passport and Berlin residential documentation.

They were fine until they got to Britain. I was on tenterhooks and had my mobile phone on full alert in case the authorities wanted to see me as I was on the other side of the airport, but everything went well. Phew!

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A Scotsman on alert.
A Scotsman on alert.

Our time in Cheshire was spent at the cosy English suburban home of my brother with children, Kellogg’s rice krispies, and chocolate éclairs flying all over the place, until it was time to take our second part of our journey to Scotland.

We were going to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and Scotland is a pre-historic country rooted from the Celts, the Scots, the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings. Edinburgh as an energetic city, is one of Europe’s most visited and as tourists, we were no exception.

A view of Edinburgh Castle not far from our hotel.
A view of Edinburgh Castle not far from our hotel.

As Britain is my home-nation, I always try to keep an eye out for money-saving possibilities, just in case. As budget was a consideration for this holiday, I had whipped out the article that I kept about a hotel company called “Premier Inn”. I had never used them before and since Edinburgh has a reputation for being outrageously expensive – a budget hotel it had to be. However, not before I had tried my best to find a hostel.

I love hostels.

I am a hostel babe and I’m not embarrassed to tell you that my first point of call is always to investigate the option of a hostel.

Indeed, The Tall Young Gentleman and I are veterans. The trick is to go for a private room as the days of a dorm-bed for £2 a night (sigh!) are definitely over, as are the adventures that go with it!

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Anyway, I searched and searched and searched. All I could find were party hostels, hostels that didn’t welcome children or hostels that had private rooms so highly priced that hotels were cheaper. Ditto B&B’s. I love a good bed and breakfast but I’m not prepared to pay £120 per night for it.

No Sire!

This isn’t London you know!!

So I had a look at Premier Inn.

Their website tells us that they are a budget hotel brand across the UK and Ireland with an emphasis on comfort and quality. I can’t fault them on this as our room had a lovely double-bed, an ensuite bathroom with a bath and shower, a TV,  free WIFI for 30 minutes, otherwise a general access to WIFI, a desk, spacious wardrobe, and I have to say, ample space to move around.

We did have a few teething problems at first though as I thought the bed for The Tall Young Gentleman wasn’t in the room and for a moment I thought he would have to sleep with us! His single bed was under ours but there were also no bed sheets and towels for him, and only one chair in the room.

On informing Reception, they promised to sort it out for us and when we returned from our day out, his bed was pulled out and made up as I had requested, and there were abundant towels and two more desk chairs in the room.

We had booked the non-smoking family room for 2 adults and 1 child and the room cost?

Wait for it.

A very reasonable.

£98 for 2 nights. That’s £49 a night!

In Edinburgh.

Who knew?!

In addition, a £2 booking fee and so all together, a round sum of £100!!

There are 7 Premier Inn branches in Edinburgh so be careful and do your research. We stayed at the Edinburgh Central (Lauriston Place) as we wanted to be within walking distance of The Royal Mile. I’d say about a 15 minute walk: give or take.

This wonderful price doesn’t include breakfast although the hotel does offer it and at least two children under 16 can eat for free if an adult books a premier breakfast too. Adults have to pay £8 for the hot and cold buffet. That would be £16 for my husband and I and honestly, Berlin spoils you. I just couldn’t contemplate paying €24 for breakfast!

Absolutely not!

So out we went.

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Looking for something to eat!
Looking for something to eat!

The first morning we went to a sweet little café. On the second morning to a workman’s but more likely student caff, that The Music Producer didn’t like at all as everything served was plastic including the cutlery. It did have a view of “Arthur’s Seat” though! On our third and last morning, I relented and we had breakfast at the hotel.

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Breakfast from a local cafe. A bun, tatties, black pudding, baked beans, sausages, bacon and HP brown sauce. Oh, and a mug of workmans' tea.
Breakfast from a local cafe.
A bun, tatties, black pudding, baked beans, sausages, bacon and HP brown sauce.
Oh, and a mug of workmans’ tea.

We coughed up the extra dosh, had a buffet breakfast at the hotel and you know what, it was perfectly alright!

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The Scottish flag.
The Scottish flag.

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my absolute own!

See you next week!

Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland

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!

Sometimes, it’s alright to admit that hotels are better than hostels!

What do you think? Are hotels better than hostels? Are you a hotel magnet? Would you ever set foot in a hostel? 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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