How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal. And what to do when you get there! – Incredible India!

At the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Victoria outside the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

So let’s take a break from Brexit for a minute and focus on India!

India?

Yep!

Can you recall that after 14 years away.

Fourteen (14) years!

I went back to India.

Outside the Amer Fort in Jaipur - India
Victoria outside the Amer Fort in Jaipur – India ©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

And before we even stepped foot in India, our troubles began.

Again!

For those of you just catching up, here’s what happened:

When the airline lost my luggage on the flight to India – Incredible India!

Because if India doesn’t break you, it’ll make you stronger!

Lost and Trapped in Delhi – Incredible India!

Haw! Haw!

So what happened after that?

Read on:

So after we left Delhi, we took the train to Agra.

Taking the train in India; At the Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); Delhi train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; train station; Delhi; India
Taking the train in India is a completely different kettle of fish!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Taking the train in India is a completely different kettle of fish to taking the train in Germany.

Or any European country for that matter!

I’ll talk about that in a completely different post!

Ha!

HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN AGRA VISITING THE TAJ MAHAL. AND

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET THERE!

The Taj Mahal in India.
The Taj Mahal in India.

LET’S GET A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY!

The Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra, India
Victoria facing the Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

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Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India.

It’s 378 km/235 miles west of the state capital, Lucknow, 206 km/128 miles south of the national capital New Delhi, 58 km/31 miles south of Mathura and 125 km/78 miles north of Gwalior.

Agra is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh, and the 24th most populous in India!

Outside the Agra Fort in Agra, India
Victoria outside the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

OMG!

Agra was first mentioned in 1080 AD.

In fact, the capital of India was moved from Delhi to Agra in 1506!

Not long after, the Golden Age, otherwise known as the Empire of the Mughals, began and took influence from 1556 to 1648.

Agra was then known as Akbarabād and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire. This was the period of religion, economic stability, art and architecture with palaces, gardens, rivers, towers and forts such as the Agra Fort, a stone military city such as Fatehpūr Sikrī, and of course, the building of one of the most iconic monuments in the world built in sorrow and to the memory of a most beloved wife – the Taj Mahal.

After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of Marathas and was renamed Agra, before being taken over by British rule, otherwise known as Queen Victoria, the Empress of India, or the British Raj, in 1803.

India remained a British colony until Indian Independence in 1947!

At the entrance to the Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra, India
At the entrance to the Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
The Diwan-i-Am, or Hall of Audience in Agra, India
At the Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Audience, Agra Fort in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Agra is a major tourist destination because of its many Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort, the tomb of Itimad-Ud-Daulah or Baby Taj, and Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Agra is also part of the tourist trail known as the Golden Triangle, which includes Delhi and Jaipur.

I'm sorry, but India's Holy River Ganges in Varanasi is utterly filthy!
I’m sorry, but India’s Holy River Ganges in Varanasi is utterly filthy!

Varanasi is a well-sought for sight, but it’s, excuse my pun, miles away from Delhi and usually includes flying or taking the over-night sleeper train.

Eek!

WHY GO TO AGRA?

Facing the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Victoria facing the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

As if you have to ask!

What?!

You do?

Ok then.

Well, Agra is in India!

Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra, India
More of the beautiful Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

It’s entwined with civilizations, history and culture, that goes back centuries!

It boasts numerous architectural jewels and a world heritage that make parts of India enviable.

And UNESCO locations filled with buildings, marked by world history of thousands of years, that made me practically salivate when I saw them!

Agra is near Delhi.

It’s pretty cheap by West European standards.

Princess Diana in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Princess Diana in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Reuters

And in 1992, Princess Diana did that famous bench moment!

And quite frankly, if you’re in North India, and you DON’T visit Agra, you’re missing out!

If you’ve seen it a million times before, then by all means, don’t bother.

But if you haven’t.

You ought to see why a man took years.

Years!

To build a monuments in sorrow and to the memory of a most beloved wife!

Are you listening people?

A monument that has lasted almost 500 years!

OMG!

Book your hotel here!

HERE’S SOME FUN FACTS!

The Music Producer in Agra, India
The Music Producer – Frank Böster in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • The Taj Mahal was built by the grief-stricken emperor Shah Jahan whose wife  – Mumtaz Mahal – died in 1631, while giving birth to their 14th child!
  • Mumtaz Mahal was Shah Jahan’s third wife
  • Her name means “Jewel of the Palace” or “Chosen One of the Palace”
  • Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632
  • The name Taj Mahal means “Crown of Places”
  • It’s an Islamic tomb
  • There are 99 names of Allah inscribed calligraphically on the side of Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb
  • It took approximately 20 years to build
  • 20,000 workers were used to build it
  • And 1000 elephants!
  • The Taj Mahal complex also has additional mausoleums, a mosque, a reflecting pool and large garden
You can actually see the Taj Mahal quite well from the Mehtab Bagh Park
If you’re short on cash, you can actually see the Taj Mahal quite well from the Mehtab Bagh Park!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • In fact, there’s a piece of land outside the official area – Mehtab Bagh park – and if you’re short on budget, you can actually see the Taj Mahal quite well from there and take photographs and videos to your heart’s content!
  • The Taj Mahal is 561 feet tall
  • The material used to build it is white marble
  • It has a large white dome surrounded by four smaller domes. The large white dome in the center is approximately 115 feet tall
  • It’s colour appears to change, depending on the time of day or whether there’s a sufficient amount of moonlight!
  • There were about 28 different types of precious and semi-precious stones inlaid into the burial tomb of the Taj Mahal
  • During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, most of the precious stones were stolen and stripped from the walls
  • Over 200,000 tourists from around the world and up to 2 – 4 million local Indian tourists, visit the Taj Mahal every year!
  • It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • It’s also one of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World
  • The four pillars around the main dome are slightly slanted so that if the pillars were to collapse,the tomb would be protected!
  • It was believed that once work on the Taj Mahal was complete, Shah Jahan had the hands of skilled expert workers, chopped off. It was probably true, as many monarchs around the world equally did the same …!

Eek!

TAKE ME THERE?

A train porter at Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; train porter; coolie; Indian porter; Indian train porters; porters; Taking the train in India; At the Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); Delhi train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; train station; Delhi; India
Take me to India by train, kind sir! Delhi – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel so we travelled by first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) to Agra (Agra Cantt).

Yes, we did!

We had planned just 16 days in India – three (3) days in Delhi, two (2) days in Agra, three (3) days in Jaipur, two (2) days in Pushkar, three (3) days in Udaipur and three (3) days in Mumbai!

You can of course, just do a day trip Delhi – Agra – Delhi.

North Central Railway - Agra Cantt train station in Agra, India; North Central Railway; North Central train; North Central train station; North Central; Agra Cantt train station; Agra Cantt train; Agra Cantt station; Agra Cantt; Cantt; taking the train in India; at the railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; train station; railway; transport; Agra; India
North Central Railway – Agra Cantt train station in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

However, we wanted to spend at least 2 days in Agra, so we opted for the express train to Agra, and a really nice hotel!

And as I always advocate, be smart, use all the weekends, and make it work!

The tickets from the train station for three first class seats cost 4,485 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €58.00 / $65.00 / ‎£50.00.

In short, €19.30 / $21.60 or ‎£16.60 per person!

With a full meal!

A crowded area; safety, people, city, street entertainment, scams
When you travel as much as I do, scams happen from time to time!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!

You can rent a car or go by taxi of course, but after the horrible night train experience that I had 14 years ago, I really wanted to put that ghost to rest and strangely, travel by train once again!

We opted to use an Indian agent recommended to me by an American expat blogger who was living in Goa at the time, so for peace of mind and ease of travel, we worked with an Indian agent who booked every train that I asked for, with my exact specifications, four (4) months ahead of time.

The name of the Indian Travel Agent is Raj Yadav. He has an agency called Train Ticket Please and was prompt and fantastically efficient. His website is on Facebook.

If you have any questions about him, just ask me.

The first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); first class Gatimaan Express train; first class train; first class Gatimaan Express; first class; Gatimaan Express train; Gatimaan Express; Gatimaan; Express train; Express; fast train; Express train in India; first class train; Indian first class train; first class train in India; Delhi train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin station; Hazrat Nizamuddin; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi, India; taking the train in India; at the railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; railway; train station; transport; Delhi; India
Victoria in front of the first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin), India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In order for us to do this from Germany, I opted to pay his agency fee of ₹5,135 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €66.00 / $74.00 / ‎£57.00 and for extra security, I paid $83.60 via PayPal or $27.80 instead!

In short, I paid a I-can-get-a-stressfree-refund-if-it-doesnt-work-out-difference of $18.60 or $6.20 dollars per person, which I’m comfortable with ‘cos I had been to India before, and the stress of organising things when you’re on a solo Indian journey can sometimes make your hair or skin, turn grey!

A man at work in India; working; man; Indian man; Indian; Delhi
Delhi isn’t kind to travellers. It’s tough out there!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

If you’re on a tight budget then there are many other trains that also go to Agra, but be aware that the fastest routes are usually sold out pretty quickly!

And it was a very nice 1.4 hour journey.

With breakfast!

And a newspaper!

Breakfast on the first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) to Agra Cantt train station - India; first class breakfast; breakfast, Indian breakfast; food; train food; meal; The first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); first class Gatimaan Express train; first class train; first class Gatimaan Express; first class; Gatimaan Express train; Gatimaan Express; Gatimaan; Express train; Express; fast train; Express train in India; first class train; Indian first class train; first class train in India; Delhi train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin station; Hazrat Nizamuddin; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi, India; North Central Railway - Agra Cantt train station in Agra, India; North Central Railway; North Central train; North Central train station; North Central; Agra Cantt train station; Agra Cantt train; Agra Cantt station; Agra Cantt; taking the train in India; at the railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; railway; train station; transport; Delhi; Agra; India
My very nice breakfast on the first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) to Agra Cantt train station – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Take a look for yourself!

Ha!

So we arrived in Agra quite safe and well and then took an Uber to our hotel.

Scams in Europe; scammed by a taxi; taxi scams; scams; taxi
I was scammed by a taxi in Prague. Yeah, I didn’t do that again!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!

Book your hotel here!

I highly recommend Uber!

So far, Uber has been fantastic so I highly recommend it for moving around safely in a taxi and at a clearly informed price, as you don’t want the hassle of taxi driver scams!

I mean, we were paying prices such as ₹219 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €2.80 / $3.10 / ‎£2.40.

In fact, we even paid ₹85 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €1.10 / $1.22 / ‎£0.95 in a proper taxi vehicle.

With seat belts!

This would never in a million years happen, if we had “negotiated” rides ourselves.

Cycle rickshaws; pedicabs; trishaws riders in India; taxi; drivers, bicycle; scams, Agra; Delhi; India
Be careful of scams by cycle rickshaws /pedicabs or trishaws riders in India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In fact, I vividly remember trying NOT to pay ₹500 (INR – Indian Rupees) in 2005, for a ride that we discussed would be ₹200 (INR – Indian Rupees) to simply go to the book market that was a 10-minute ride away, and which ultimately took 2-hours as the rickshaw driver took me from shop to shop for “commissions” instead!

I was so frustrated!

So I highly, highly recommend Uber.

I highly recommend Uber!

Use Uber.

If you sign up you’ll get €5.00 off your first ride!

Here’s my link!

I’M TRAVELLING SOLO, IS AGRA SAFE?

Children looking through a window at the Taj Mahal; Agra; India
Children looking through a window at the Taj Mahal. Is India safe?
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

It can be.

It’s complicated.

Most people are really nice, eager to help and respectful.

In fact, I was surprised at how many people actually asked if they could take photographs with me.

And if they asked, I would usually accept.

But.

Local Indians don’t often see Western tourists and their way of greeting and excitement can be over-whelming.

Take a look at this video taken by German YouTubers – The Nile Brothers (Nick and Lenny)

It’s crazy, these fellows were travelling together, and they’re blokes!

Indian men can be over-enthusiastic and creepy by the constant staring, touching, peeping and inappropriate questions.

It’s awful that as strong independent women today, if you’re travelling solo, YOU have to watch how you come across, rather than the obvious use of common sense and if-you-don’t-have-permission-or-clearly-worded-stated-consent, don’t touch.

It’s as simple as that.

In the spirit of #MeToo, both men and women in Western nations are working towards this.

Not so in India.

This blog isn’t the place to debate the battle of the sexes, it’s about how to get the best experience you possibly can, when you travel.

Whoever you may be.

Regardless of your sex, gender or sexual orientation.

Here’s what to do:

Political image; Times Up; No photographs; No videos; No permission; No means No
Please don’t take photographs or videos of me without my permission.
No photo!
No Means No; Political image; No consent; No photographs; No videos; No touching; No permission;
No means No!
  • Be firm and stand your ground
  • Insist that they don’t take photographs or videos of you without your permission
At the Taj Mahal West Gate in Agra, India
The Music Producer & The Tall Young Gentleman at the Taj Mahal West Gate in Agra, India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

I was travelling with my husband and my teenage son and when we were together, there was a respectful distance, but when I wandered off to make my own photography, the peeping and candid photography would begin!

I was firm.

I stated clearly that I didn’t want to be photographed and if I did, it usually involved a woman or children, rather than random lone men!

Indian men; India; Indian; Indian man; India
Indian men can seem over-enthusiastic and creepy by the constant staring, touching, peeping and inappropriate questions.

In one instance, an Indian chap wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept following me about, so I turned around swiftly and demanded his camera.

He was so shocked that he gave it to me, so I deleted his pictures, handed him his phone back and walked off!

Coolies / porters carrying luggage at the train station in India; porters; Indian porters; Indian luggage; transport; train station
Having someone take your luggage is useful but Coolies / porters can walk faster than you think!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • Watch and take care of your belongings
  • Dress conservatively
  • Don’t wander around late at night
  • Be aware of body language as sadly, it’s all too interpreted as “flirty” or “available”
  • Keep your drinking to a reasonable level ‘cos India isn’t the place to “go on a bender and get pissed!”
  • Use Uber
  • If you don’t feel safe, get yourself out of there as quickly as possible and if that’s not an option, go straight to the nearest shop, restaurant, hotel, or group of people and ask for help
  • Do your research on local scams
  • Don’t let a low-budget be the reason that you’re booked in a hotel that is dodgy as hell!
  • Take your time, spend a euro/dollar/pound or two more, and book a slightly better one

And to be honest, I wouldn’t let my driver (a complete stranger), arrange my accommodation either, use booking.com and book your own!

Here’s the link!

hotel scams; hotels; scams in India,; Indian scams; Asian scams; scams in Asia
The Indian taxi driver tells you that your hotel is closed, over-booked, or burnt to the ground!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!

Book your hotel here!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Agra Fort in Agra, India; people; Indian people; tourists; tourism; crowds; sightseeing; UNESCO site
India can be crowded, but it’s not as crowded as you might think – Agra Fort!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
Agra Fort in Agra, India; people; Indian people; tourists; tourism; crowds; sightseeing; UNESCO site
The Agra Fort can be crowded, but it’s not as crowded as you might think!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Well, it’s India!

But it’s not as crowded as you might think!

And in many of my photographs, there’s quite a lot of space without any bother at all!

Agra Fort in Agra, Taj Mahal; Fatehpur Sikri; India; people; Indian people; tourists; tourism; crowds; sightseeing; UNESCO site
Don’t let anyone say that India is far too crowded. This was Agra & as you can see, at that moment, there was no-one there!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

So don’t let anyone say that the Taj Mahal / Agra Fort / Fatehpur Sikri is far too crowded.

Because it isn’t!

You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn unless you really want to.

And if you’re a parent.

On holiday!

Why would you want to?

Rooftop in Agra; rooftop view; rooftop; skydeck in Agra; view of the Taj Mahal; Taj Mahal view; Taj Mahal hotel; 5-star hotel in Agra; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces
Victoria & family on the rooftop skydeck of her 5-star hotel in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Of course, the Taj Mahal is a world-class UNESCO sight and EVERYONE should see it, but it isn’t any more or less crowded than the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Time Square in New York, would be.

Book your hotel here!

We got to the Agra Fort at about 13:30, really took our time wandering around, taking photos and videos, etc. and started walking towards the ticket entrance at about 15:30!

We went in October, and there were very few tourists around as it wasn’t yet “the season!”

Entrance tickets at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; High Value ticket holders; General Value ticket holders; tickets at the Taj Mahal
Entrance tickets at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India, for High Value ticket holders & General Value ticket holders!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In fact, we practically breezed into most places that required an entrance ticket because as “high value ticket holders,”  the tariffs were priced much greater than “general value ticket holders!”

In fact, considering the fact that the Taj Mahal is a paid-for UNESCO sight, the number of people who were there, is considerably less!

And there were plenty of spots to take photographs, in which absolutely no-one was anywhere near!

I know!

HOW MUCH ARE ENTRANCE TICKETS?

Entrance tickets fees at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; High Value ticket holders; General Value ticket holders; tickets at the Taj Mahal; entrance fees at the Taj Mahal; entrance tickets; ticket fees
Entrance ticket fees at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

THE TAJ MAHAL:

  • Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹1,100 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €14.00 / $16.00 / ‎£12.00 for adults
  • ₹600 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €8.00 / $9.00 / ‎£7.00 for students
  • ₹540 (INR – Indian Rupees) for foreign tourists from other Asian countries
  • And absolutely nothing at all for children under 15 regardless of where they come from!
  • In contrast to local tourists who pay ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €0.65 / $0.75 / ‎£0.55

Rightly so!

AGRA FORT:

  • Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹610 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €8.00 / $9.00 / ‎£7.00 for adults
  • ₹600 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €8.00 / $9.00 / ‎£7.00 for student
  • ₹90 (INR – Indian Rupees) for foreign tourists from other Asian countries
  • And absolutely nothing at all for children under 15!
  • Local tourists pay ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees)

FATEHPUR SIKRI:

  • Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹650 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €9.00 / $10.00 / ‎£7.50 for adults
  • ₹600 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €.00 / $.00 / ‎£0.00 for students
  • ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees) for foreign tourists from other Asian countries
  • And absolutely nothing at all for children under 15!
  • Local tourists pay ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees)

There is an additional charge of ₹200 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €2.60 / $3.00 / ‎£2.30 to both foreign and local tourists, if they want to visit the main mausoleum.

Shoe covers to the monuments at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; shoe covers; protective cover; plastic shoes
You get a bottle of water, shoe covers & speedy entrance to the monuments at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

For this you get a bottle of water, shoe covers and speedy entrance to the monuments.

It was brilliant.

Men and woman are separated of course, but the amount of time it needed to get us all in was a mere few minutes.

In fact, if you’re a foreign tourist AND paid the “high value ticket” fee, ensure that you insist or being allowed into that queue rather than the ordinary queue.

Don’t be shy as you’ve paid for it.

If you have sharp elbows manage to find the right queue, you’ll breeze through the lines and be at security control, in a matter of minutes!

Don’t panic and have a virtual heart-attack when you see this photograph below!

Don't panic; a very long queue at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; a very long line at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; a very long queue; a very long line; a queue; a line; Taj Mahal; Agra; India
Don’t panic and have a virtual heart-attack when you see this enormously long queue at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India. There’s a much shorter special queue just to the side. Follow the signs!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

There’s also a special queue just to the side. Follow the signs!

Here’s my video:

 

ANY TIPS OR TRICKS?

Prohibited items at the Agra Fort and Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Prohibited items at the Agra Fort; Prohibited items at the Taj Mahal; Prohibited items in Agra, India; Agra, India; books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed at the Agra Fort;books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed at the Agra Fort; books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed at the Taj Mahal; prohibited; not allowed
Books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed – Prohibited items at the Agra Fort & Taj Mahal in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
Rent a horse and carriage at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; horse and carriage; horse and carriage in India; transport in India; Indian transport; horse; carriage; transport; small children; young children; mobility issues; mobikity; mobility in India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India
The Taj Mahal in Agra – India is perfectly walkable, but if you have small children or mobility issues, then rent a horse and carriage!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • Don’t let scammers take control, there are no entry fees for children under 15 years, regardless of whether they’re foreign or Indian!
  • If your children look mature or are tall for their age, take a school I.D. We used this pretty much everywhere as our son was 16 years old and looked like 20!
  • Be assertive, you might have to use sharp elbows in order to get through the throng, but you don’t need an agent to simply buy your ticket. Follow the signs!
  • There’s a separate queue for “high value ticket holders” / foreigners, you’ve paid for it, so don’t be shy to use it!
  • You can buy your ticket at the ticket counter or online via: www.tajmahal.gov.in
  • To buy your entrance ticket to visit the world renowned Taj Mahal, you MUST show your passport or government approved identity card. Don’t forget!
  • Don’t give anyone anywhere a single penny for anything at all, except at the ticket counter. Just follow the signs!
  • Use the Taj West Gate. It’s easy to find, simply follow the signs!
  • You are entitled to a bottle of water. For free! Make sure it’s completely sealed!
  • You can of course, bring your own bottle of water
Shoe covers to the monuments at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; High value ticket holder; high value tickets; high value; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; shoe covers; protective cover; plastic shoes
If you have a “high value” ticket at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India, you are entitled to shoe covers free of charge! Make sure you get them or you’ll end up in your socks or bare-footed on a hot & dirty floor!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • If you are a “high value ticket holder” / foreigner, you are entitled to shoe covers free of charge! Make sure you get them as shoes aren’t allowed at the inner sanctum and you’ll end up in your socks or bare-footed on a very hot and dirty floor!
  • If you are a “high value ticket holder” / foreigner, you are entitled to a tourist guide map of Agra and battery bus and golf cart services free of charge, which we didn’t see or get!
  • The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday. Every Friday
  • Honestly, it’s perfectly walkable, but if you have small children or mobility issues, then rent a horse and carriage!
  • Books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal!
  • Bags are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal so either leave it at the hotel, securely locked in your car / taxi or in the locker, which is provided near the gates!
  • Drone cameras are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal
  • Tripods are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal
  • Shoe racks are available just below the main mausoleum free of cost
  • Photography is not allowed inside the main mausoleum but I observed that practically every second Indian tourist completely disregarded this and were taking pictures

Sigh!

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS AGRA LIKE?

Agra Fort train station in Agra, India; ; railway; Indian train; trains in India; Indian railway; government railway police station Agra Fort; Govt. Rly. Police Station Agra Fort, Police Station Agra Fort; police station; Indian police station; train; train station; Agra; India
At the Agra Fort train station in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

It’s alright.

It doesn’t have a reputation for being the prettiest place in the world.

In fact, as a city, it’s quite ugly.

And dirty.

However, you can overlook this by virtue of the fact that Agra is of historical and architectural interest.

And you know how much I adore history, culture, art and architecture.

It’s also part of the tourist trail known as the Golden Triangle, so if you’re short on time or have never been to India before, then I absolutely recommend Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – Pushkar and Udaipur, as the absolute minimum.

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An amazing time at the Agra Fort in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In that wise, we spent 24 hours not only visiting the Taj Mahal but also:

All of these fantastic buildings are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

And for that, all is forgiven!

I DON’T SPEAK HINDI.

Speaking; speak; Hindi; Indian people; Indian; don't speak, Indian culture; Indian men; people; mouth; stick in mouth; culture; don't talk; no talking; talk; languages; language; Indian traditions; traditions
I don’t speak Hinidi! Neither do they!

Not. A. Problem.

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

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

Hindi and English are the only two official national languages, and by far the most widely spoken language in India, but if you speak Bengali, Gujarati, Urdu or Punjabi, you’re good to go!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

Poverty in India; where to live; where to stay; Indian poverty; India; Indian; poverty; a place to live; house; home; alleyway
Poverty in India

Ha!

Depending on how brave you are, you can really go bare-bones in India, or live like a king.

It’s up to you!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

I like to mix things up a little!
How to spend 48 astonishing hours in Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern – On a budget!

India isn’t as cheap as you think.

I mean, it can be reaaaaally cheap, but you’ll literally get what you pay for.

So unless you want to sleep on a rat-ridden, cockroach-crawling, dirty bedsheet, water-in-a-bucket sodden filthy room for ₹100 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €.1.28 / $1.45 / ‎£1.10, or spend the rest of your holiday / break / finding yourself / adventure / spilling out your guts in the bathroom (if you can find one) because you drank tap water / ate food at a dodgy corner/ etc, cough up for a little more “quality!”

We knew that Agra might prove more difficult finding “moderately priced” boutique / historical traditional mansions, otherwise known as a Haveli, so we opted for a proper hotel instead.

Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
We were shocked & amazed at just how good our five-star hotel – the Tajview, Agra, previously known as Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra (Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) – actually was!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

We  were hoping for at least the basics and were shocked and amazed at just how good our five-star hotel – the Tajview, Agra, previously known as Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra (Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) – actually was.

It was amazing!

And the irony was, it was actually the cheapest hotel we had in India as we only paid ₹9,214 or €117.00 / $133.00 / ‎£101.00 per night (including the tax) for two premium rooms king bed superior rooms with a view of the Taj Mahal (members rate) at ₹4,607 or €59.00 / $66.50 / ‎£51.00 per room!

And.

We were upgraded to two SeleQtions Suite Tajview King Bed rooms worth ₹28,000 or €359.00 / $405.00 / ‎£310.00 per night or at ₹14,000 or €179.00 / $202.00 / ‎£155.00 per room!

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We were upgraded to two SeleQtions Suite Tajview King Bedrooms at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Our rooms were marvellous and absolutely faced the Taj Mahal at every angle.

We also had a very comfortable bedroom, a large living room, and an enormous bathroom.

Honestly, I wished we had been able to stay longer than just 2 days!

Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
We spent 24 hours doing absolutely nothing but pampering ourselves at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

We were really impressed and actually spent 24 hours of our time doing absolutely nothing but pampering ourselves at the beginning of our trip!

We used the spa and booked the ultimate couples massage whilst our teenaged son spent the afternoon in a private coaching session of archery and rifle shooting.

We had cocktails on the rooftop skydeck and really spent the time rejuvenating and enjoying the beauty and 100% service that is India!

Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
The staff at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel were very attentive to our needs and wishes!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Let me just say that the staff were very attentive to our needs and wishes.

The food wasn’t glorious but the service was impeccable!

Breakfast; Indian breakfast; food; Indian food; Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
An Indian breakfast at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel – The food was so-so but the service was impeccable!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
fruit; Indian fruit; exotic fruit; Breakfast; Indian breakfast; food; Indian food; Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
Fruit at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel – The food was so-so but the service was impeccable!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

We probably spent €250+ for additional services, but it was worth every penny!

I utterly recommend the Tajview, Agra, previously known as Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra (Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) hotel!

Book ahead to get good prices.

Book your hotel here!

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

Exotic India; Amazing India; exotic; amazing; Indian people; Indian; Indian culture; Indian man; religious man; Indian religion; religion; Sadhu; holy person; holy man; holy; Hinduism; Hindu; people; mouth; clothes; clothing; Indian clothes; dancing; dance; Indian dancing; culture; Indian traditions; traditions; India
You never know what you might see in exotic amazing India!

Absolutely!

Too many to write at the moment.

More soon!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

transport; car; taxi; transport in India; drivers, transport scams; Indian scams; Indian cars; Indian taxi drivers; Indian taxis; hotel cars; airport cars; Agra; Delhi; India
The hotel in Delhi sent a car to collect me from the airport, then claimed they had never heard of me!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!
I highly recommend Uber!

Uber is fantastic in India.

If you’ve never used Uber before and you would like to. As a first-time customer, if you use my code – victoriaa12504ue – you’ll get €5.00 off your first ride. It’s like riding for free!

You can basically hire a car and driver using the app for a matter of mere hours, all day or pay a flat fee from city to city!

To hire the car where the driver would wait for us for the day, cost us no more than ₹500 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €6.40 / $7.25 / ‎£5.52!

And even for a Premier InterCity city-to-city pre-booking taxi hire for a journey of 153.95 km that took 4 hours and 51 minutes, was the ridiculously cheap price of just ₹1,399 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €18.00 / $20.00 / ‎£15.50 and that was BEFORE the 20% discount for a first intercity ride price of ₹1,119.20 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €14.40 / $16.00 / ‎£12.50!

I couldn’t believe it myself.

ANYTHING ELSE?

The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday; Taj Mahal; closed on Friday; Friday; closed; sightseeing; Agra; India
Don’t forget.
The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday!

The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday.

Don’t forget!

Oh, and try not to get scammed!

MY VERDICT:

Holi; Holi festival; Exotic India; Amazing India; exotic; amazing; awesome; Indian people; Indian; Indian culture; Indian woman; religious woman; Indian religion; religion; holy; Hinduism; Hindu; people; clothes; clothing; Indian clothes; dancing; dance; Indian dancing; culture; Indian traditions; traditions; India
India is awesome!

We all loved it!

Because, Game of Thrones!

Just kidding!

Or am I?!

But seriously.

For many international visitors, India isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, but if you’re feeling adventurous, want to push boundaries, willing to get out of your comfort zone, yadda yadda, make it a point of duty to spend a few months weeks, in as many places as you can manage.

If you’re looking for a new destination that isn’t really on the beaten path, say hello – INDIA!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Food tour; Food Tour Delhi; Delhi food tour; food; eat; Indian food; walking tour; Delhi walking tour; Delhi; India
Victoria at a food tour in Delhi – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Sure!

This wasn’t my first trip to India and it probably won’t be my last.

India isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely worth a visit.

Let’s do it!

IF INDIA DOESN’T BREAK YOU, IT’LL MAKE YOU STRONGER ‘COS INDIA IS HARD!

transport; tuk-tuk; taxi; auto rickshaw, pulled rickshaw; cycle rickshaw. transport in India; drivers, transport scams; Indian scams; Indian tuk-tuk; Indian taxi drivers; Indian taxis; hotel transport; airport transport; ride; India
Perhaps India has changed!

And for those of you who are over 30 (ahem!).

This blog and the next couple of months weeks, is for you.

India isn’t easy, but if you want to go there.

You can!

And of course, if you’re really nervous, I offer a consultancy, and can help you organise or advice you on many parts of your trip to India!

For more info, click here!

Exciting India; Exotic India; Amazing India; exotic; amazing; exciting; adventure; Indian people; Indian; Indian culture; Indian man; man; people; clothes; clothing; hiding; hidden; culture; Indian traditions; traditions; India
Who doesn’t like an exciting adventure in Incredible India!

Who doesn’t like an exciting adventure?

Well, follow me over the next few months, and find out!

So  what are you waiting for?

‘Rah! ‘Rah!

HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN AGRA VISITING THE TAJ MAHAL. AND WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET THERE! – INCREDIBLE INDIA!

How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal; 2 days in Agra; 48 hours in Agra;1 day in Agra; 24 hours in Agra; visiting the Taj Mahal; visit the Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahal; Taj Mahal; what to do; things to do; Agra; India
Victoria with a new friend, at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

This article isn’t sponsored, and all opinions and thoughts on Agra, the Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort, are utterly, my very own!

Stay tuned.

Yay!

That’s it for now.

See you soon!

How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal; 2 days in Agra; 48 hours in Agra;1 day in Agra; 24 hours in Agra; visiting the Taj Mahal; visit the Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahal; Taj Mahal; what to do; things to do; Agra; India
Victoria & The Music Producer at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Watch this space!

Please note that there are three affiliate link companies connected to this post! Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

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!

So what are you waiting for?

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal; 2 days in Agra; 48 hours in Agra;1 day in Agra; 24 hours in Agra; visiting the Taj Mahal; visit the Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahal; Taj Mahal; what to do; things to do; Agra; India
How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal. And what to do when you get there! – Incredible India

Have you ever seen the Taj Mahal? Would you like to visit Agra? 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 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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The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

Wow!

The last two months have been busy!

I went to Norway.

I was in the newspaper.

I was on TV.

And I went to not one film festival, but two!

Two (2) films festivals!

Whaaaat?!$!

A Beginners’ Guide to the 69th Berlinale. Yes! The Berlin International Film Festival 2019 is finally here!

The Berlin International Film Festival otherwise known as the Berlinale and the glamour it brought, is now over!

And what a wonderful time we had!

We had a long, fantastic fortnight of films, films, and yes more films!

In fact, my eyes have literally sunk into my head from watching so many.

And will I do it all over again next year?

You betcha!

At Sputnik Kino for Die rbb Reporter in Berlin!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner / Kay S. Abaño [www.kayabano.com]
Victoria smiling for Die rbb Reporter in Berlin!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner / Kay S. Abaño [www.kayabano.com]

In fact, only a few weeks ago I was telling you all about how I could afford to travel all over Europe, rush through Bruges in Belgium, get scammed in Berlin, be utterly bored by Romania, proud as punch to be invited for the Royal Reception of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, asked to explore Sweden, Latvia and Estonia on a press trip, and got completely lost and trapped in India!

With family in tow!

And just the other week, I was in the German newspaper – Der Tagesspiegel – (Berlin-Brexit Stories #2 on 15th January 2019 – 17:56), and I’m going to be on TV again on 13.03.19!

It’s going to be in connection with Brexit and British Expats in Berlin / Germany.

And just like last time, a TV crew contacted me, and asked if they could follow me about for, you know, a typical day in the life of a travel, expat, lifestyle British blogger!

Recording was at the British Shorts Film Festival that took place at the Sputnik Kino in Berlin.

The programme was to be shown on – Die rbb Reporter | rbb – Briten in Berlin und Brandenburg – Deutscher Pass statt Brexit-Chaos or Brits in Berlin and Brandenburg – German passport instead of Brexit-Chaos on 20.02.19 at 21:00.

UPDATE: The rbb Brexit reportage has been postponed to: 13.03.19 at 21:15!

Save the Date!

I’ll write more about it after the programme has aired.

In March!

Yay!

 

Victoria – The British Berliner at the British Shorts Film Festival!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – January 2019
I went to the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale and I went to the British Shorts Film Festival.

Both of them take place in Berlin

And both of them are film festivals very much worth going to.

For more information and a description of the Berlinale. Click here!

For more information and a description of the British Shorts Film Festival. Click here!

WHAT IS THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE?

The new 69th Berlinale 2019 Film Programme!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2019

Well, the Berlinale is simply, the world’s largest public film festival which provides an audience of interested film-goers, a city full of excitement, a diverse cultural scene, fascinating new films, up and coming artists, and an opportunity to see, talk to, and take close-up pictures, of international stars in the movie world!

The public programme of the Berlinale shows about 400 films per year of mostly international or European premieres of every genre, length and format!

The Berlin International Film Festival is a source of inspiration in the global film community, encouraging the influx of film programmes, workshops, panel discussions, joint projects, and other creative outlets and networking possibilities.

And with more than:

  • 332,403 sold tickets
  • 18,080 professional visitors
  • 130 countries
  • 3,688 journalists
  • Art
  • Glamour
  • Parties
  • Networking
  • The Business of Film-Making

 

I’m actually in the video above. This was the first “star” Press Conference at the Berlinale, and I’m standing right behind the journalist who asked Bryan Cranston that super interesting question!

You simply can’t go wrong!

That’s right.

From the 7th of February to the 17th February, 2019, Berlin was packed solid, with members of the film industry.

The Berlinale is not only an independent film festival with a difference, but also a film festival that ordinary people can actually visit.

Yes, that means YOU!

I’m a Corporate Training Manager, I’m married and have a teenage son, so I always have to get smart and creative.

During the week, I was very busy with my job working at H&D – An HCL Technologies CompanyH&D Business Services GmbH, and didn’t watch any films at all during the week and only went to screenings on Thursday – late night – and then really went crazy over the weekend!

I must be bonkers!

Jonas Dassler – Der Goldene Handschuh | The Golden Glove – Competition 2019
©Gordon Timpen / 2018 bombero int./Warner Bros. Ent.

Here are ALL the films that I watched in alphabetical order!

  1. Bait
  2. Berlin Bouncer
  3. Buoyancy
  4. Busong
  5. Di jiu tian chang – So Long, My Son
  6. Divino Amor – Divine Love
  7. Easy Love
  8. Elternschule – Parents’ School
  9. Estou Me Guardando Para Quando O Carnaval Chegar – Waiting for the Carnival
  10. Der Goldene Handschuh – The Golden Glove
  11. Die Kinder der Toten – The Children of the Dead
  12. Four Quartets
  13. Für Frauen. 1. Kapitel: For Women – Chapter 1
  14. Heimweh nach Rügen oder Gestern noch war ich Köchin – Homesick for Rügen or Yesterday, I Was a Cook
  15. Hölmö nuori sydän – Stupid Young Heart
  16. Kids
  17. Kislota – Acid
  18. Liberty
  19. Mid90s
  20. Miss World
  21. Monștri – Monsters
  22. Mr. Jones
  23. Šavovi – Stitches
  24. Sie – She
  25. Skin
  26. So Pretty
  27. Staff Only
  28. Story
  29. Systemsprenger – System Crasher
  30. Styx
  31. Tattoo
  32. Temblores – Tremors
  33. The Biggest Little Farm
  34. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
  35. To thávma tis thálassas ton Sargassón – The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea
  36. Weil du nur einmal lebst – Die Toten Hosen auf Tour – Die Toten Hosen – You Only Live Once
  37. When Tomatoes Met Wagner
  38. Where We Belong

In my opinion, every film was brilliant, and none were duds!

So without further ado, here are the films that I think are going to be the next big thing.

In no particular order!

THE TOP 20 FESTIVAL FILMS YOU SHOULD REALLY WATCH IN 2019!

Jonah Hill – Hollywood Actor and Director having fun on the Red Carpet at the Berlin International Film Festival with his film – Mid90s!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

In the flurry of excitement and talented art, I managed to watch 38 films in just seven (7) days.

Thirty Eight!

I admit. It was a little exhausting but some films were long and some weren’t.

HITS FOR EVERYONE!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!
  1.  THE BOY WHO HARNASSED THE WIND
Chiwetel Ejiofor & Maxwell Simba – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
©Ilze Kitshoff – Netflix

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is adapted from the bestselling book by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.

It follows 13-year-old William Kamkwamba (newcomer Maxwell Simba), who is thrown out of the school he loves, when his family can no longer afford his tuition fees.

Using the school library, he finds a way, by using his father’s – Trywell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) – to build a windmill which then saves his village in Malawi, from hunger and famine.

This film is the real-life story of a the young boy who saved a village, and the author of the actual book!

The film is acted, written and directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave, Mary Magdalene), so you know it’s going to be quality, and I can tell you that there was not a dry eye in the room, and various sounds of sniffing and blowing of handkerchiefs!

It’s produced with the help of Netflix.

Watch it!

2.  MID90s

Na-Kel Smith, Olan Prenatt, Gio Galicia, Ryder McLaughlin & Sunny Suljic – Mid90s
©2018 Jayhawker Holdings

Mid90s is a coming-of-age movie above Stevie.

Stevie is 13, but looks far, far  younger, and is desperate to hang out with the big boys.

His older brother bullies him, and his single mother is rarely at home.

When Stevie meets a group of cool dudes at the local skateboard shop, everything changes and it’s not long before Stevie smokes his first cigarette…

I won’t tell you what happens except to say that the writer and director – Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) – has paid great attention to detail in order to resurrect the 1990’s for his directorial debut.

His story of a teenager’s difficult search for recognition and the right friends unfolds with great ease and plenty of music.

Think back to the 90’s with mixtapes, VHS camcorders, Nintendo PlayStation, songs of Nirvana, Cypress Hill, Seal, etc. and a good dose of nostalgia.

You’ll love it!

3.  MR. JONES

Mr. Jones at the Berlinale – the Berlin International Film Festival – Competition 2019 by Agnieszka Holland starring James Norton
© Robert Palka Film Produkcja

Mr. Jones is made by Academy Award nominee Agnieszka Holland who brings to the screen the extraordinary untold story of Gareth Jones.

Gareth Jones was an ambitious young Welsh journalist who not only became the first foreign journalist to cover the story of Hitler, but also travelled to the Soviet Union in 1933 and uncovered the appalling truth behind the Soviet “utopia,” otherwise known as the rapid modernisation of the Soviet Union, and Stalin’s regime.

In fact, he even attempted to get an interview with Stalin himself!

On closer detail, all isn’t as it seems and he witnesses crimes against humanity which he diligently reports, and which are all denied and ignored by Western media.

He does however, meet a young writer called George Orwell who goes on to become famous for writing a most famous and yet still contemporary, allegorical novel inspired by Gareth Jones’ story – Animal Farm.

Not much is known about Gareth Jones.

Until now.

So what happened to him?

Watch the film at a cinema near you, and find out?

4.  SYSTEMSPRENGER – SYSTEM CRASHER

Helena Zengel – Systemsprenger | System Crasher
©Peter Hartwig / kineo / Weydemann Bros. / Yunus Roy Imer

Systemsprenger | System Crasher is a film about Bernadette, or Benni – a delicate-looking girl with unbridled energy. She is a ‘system crasher’.

This term is used to describe children who break every single rule; children who refuse to accept any kind of structure, and who gradually fall through the cracks in Germany’s child and welfare services.

In fact, there was even talk of sending her to a children’s home in Africa!

No matter where this nine-year-old is taken in, she is booted out again after a short time. And that is exactly what she is after, because all she really wants, is to be able to live with her mother again. A woman who is totally unable to cope with her daughter’s unpredictable behaviour.

This multi-award-winning script, has created a dramatically intense film about one child’s overwhelming need for love and security and the potential for violence that this engenders.

At the same time, it depicts the tireless attempts of teachers and psychologists who use respect, trust and confidence to create a way forward for children who threaten to destroy others and themselves, as a result of their unpredictable outbursts.

This film is sad and somewhat disturbing, but with a potential for hope.

If you can get your hands on it, it’s well worth watching for the brilliant performance of the young actor – Helena Zengel!

5.  THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM

The Biggest Little Farm – Emma the pig, Greasy the rooster – Culinary Cinema
©John Chester

The Biggest Little Farm is a documentary about the complexity of nature and our relationship to it.

It follows two dreamers –  John and Molly Chester – and a dog on an odyssey to bring harmony to both their lives and the land.

When the barking of their beloved dog – Todd – leads to an eviction notice from their tiny LA apartment, John and Molly Chester make a choice that takes them out of the city and onto 200 acres in the foothills of Ventura County, naively endeavoring to build one of the most diverse farms of its kind in complete co-existence with nature. The land they’ve chosen, however, is utterly depleted of nutrients and suffering from brutal drought.

Cameraman, director and newly minted farmer John Chester, spent eight daunting years chronicling the hard and passionate work involved in realising their utopia. His footage also includes some remarkable nocturnal shots of their animal companions and the planting of 10,000 orchard trees, over 200 different crops, and bringing in animals of every kind – including an unforgettable pig named Emma and her best friend, Greasy the rooster.

Just as the farm’s ecosystem finally begins to reawaken, their plans of perfect harmony takes a series of unfortunate wild turns that will lead them to life, death, the depth of despair, and everlasting hope that it’ll somehow come together.

I loved it!

I think you will too!

HITS FOR FILM NERDS

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

If you’re really into independent or international films, then the following list will please you, and whet your appetite, for good quality film-making.

Films that don’t need to worry about whether the audience will “get it” or appeal to 12-year-old boys.

In short, intelligent films!

Here goes:

6.  WHEN TOMATOES MET WAGNER

Alexander with aunties Niki, Stavroula, Agathi, Katina & Olga – When Tomatoes Met Wagner – Culinary Cinema 2019
©Myrto Papadopoulos

When Tomatoes Met Wagner is a funny and uplifting story of how two enterprising Greek cousins – Christos and Alexansdros – and five village women, attempt to tackle the world vegetable market by selling their own home-grown tomatoes!

It’s a quirky and inspiring tale of how a tiny rural village  – Elias in Greece – with a population of just a mere 33 elderly inhabitants – respond to  the new reality of how we eat and grow our food, by engaging in organic farming to overcome the Greek financial crisis!

And not by the use of any added ingredient, but by literally, the sound of music!

The brains behind this inspiring idea is Alexandros who uses stories of legend and history to market their products, encourage people from all over the world to visit Elias, and is utterly convinced that playing the music of Wagner in the tomato fields, helps crops grow healthy in a natural way.

With the help of his cousin Christos, a traditional farmer, they soon turn his land to the cultivation of organic tomatoes with the help of five (5) elderly women from the village who pasteurize, label and hand package their crops, as tomato paste and organic meals.

Soon, the little jars find their place on the shelves of organic stores across the world.

It’s funny, warm, original, and heart-breaking all at the same time.

You. Have. Got. To. See. This. Film.

7.  DIE KINDER DER TOTEN – THE CHILDREN OF THE DEAD

Greta Kostka & Andrea Maier – Die Kinder der Toten | The Children of the Dead
©Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion

In the film Die Kinder der Toten|The Children of the Dead, tourism is booming at the Pension Alpenrose.

After dying in an accident, Karin returns as one of the undead. In a cinema owned by a Nazi widow where the past is mourned, she brings the non-living back to life.

In her 666-page ghost novel “The Children of the Dead”, Elfriede Jelinek allows the deceased to rise again, as a parade of zombies in a supermarket!

The film flutters between past and present. The present – a coach load of Dutch tourists and Syrian refugees. The past – hunters and zombies with swastikas and Jewish concentration camp victims, walking around, hand-in-hand!

The directorial duo from the Nature Theater of Oklahoma used amateur actors and Super 8 film in the original Styrian setting in Austria, using silent film, complete with Austrian brass-band music.

It’s a strange home-made horror movie, in which the vulgar and the ridiculous meet.

Terrific!

8.   BAIT

Edward Rowe & Isaac Woodvine – Bait
©Early Day Films Limited

Bait is a black-and-white film shot on hand-processed 16mm with close-ups of fish, nets, lobsters, wellington boots, knots, catch baskets, and even sounds of the bare gravel of fisher folk trudging across the pebbles on the beach!

The location is placed in an idyll Cornwall fishing village where the locals are no longer able to support themselves in the traditional way of fishing, but have had to resort to more lucrative ways via selling their homes, or catering to the interests of day-trippers, on sailing trips around the cove.

This has created tension between the weekend London city-folk and the now far-poorer original village locals, who have been priced out of the market or have to contend with empty buildings that they can no longer afford to live in, depicting images of historical reference and the tradition of social realism in British cinema.

I enjoyed it very much and if you’re a film nerd, you probably will too!

9.   TO THÁVMA TIS THÁLASSAS TON SARGASSÓN|THE MIRACLE OF THE SARGASSO SEA

To thávma tis thálassas ton Sargassón | The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea
©Kiki Papadopoulou

To thávma tis thálassas ton Sargassón | The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea is about Elisabeth – the police chief of the Greek coastal town of Mesolongi.

She drinks too much, constantly swears and is sleeping with a married doctor. Her transfer from Athens to the tiny fishing village ten years ago still rankles with her, and her adolescent son – Dimitris – has to learn to live with it.

Rita comes from Mesolongi and works in a factory; her brother is a local celebrity who makes her join him on stage during his club appearances. Rita is very unhappy and a death tears apart the already fragile network of relationships between the villagers, revealing an even more damaged structure beneath.

Angeliki Papoulia’s brilliant performance and the surprisingly shocking plot of the film serves up a small-town nightmare, garnished with eels and several layers of interpretation.

Highly recommended!

10.  K I D S

Kids – Director – Michael Frei
©Michael Frei

 

Kids is an experimental project about the psychology of the group dynamic.

Who is steering the crowd? What if it is heading in the wrong direction? Where does the individual end and the group begin?

It’s a witty black-and-white animated short film, an interactive piece of animation and a computer game set up that has animated figures running up and down the screen before they splat!

It’s hilarious and I absolutely loved it!

FILMS I REALLY, REALLY LIKE!

Put the kettle on. We’re going to be here all day!
How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

I’m very into British / Irish, Asian and East European films, as they’re all quite gritty, weird and obscure. This year, I watched quite a few German films.

And surprisingly, I liked them!

11.   DER GOLDENE HANDSCHUH|THE GOLDEN GLOVE

Jonas Dassler – Der Goldene Handschuh | The Golden Glove
©Gordon Timpen / 2018 bombero int./Warner Bros. Ent.
The rather handsome Jonas Dassler as himself! – Der Goldene Handschuh | The Golden Glove
©Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

The Der Goldene Handschuh|The Golden Glove is set in Hamburg – St.Pauli – in the 1970’s.

At first glance, Fritz «Fiete» Honka is a pitiful loser.

The man with the broken face binge-drinks his nights in his local neighborhood dive, the «Golden Glove», chasing after lonely women. None of the regulars suspect that the apparently harmless Fiete, is actually a monster.

Fatih Akin’s horror film is based on a true story and Heinz Strunk’s 2016 crime novel.

It’s the story of Fritz Honka, a serial killer who hid, mutilated, chopped up, and murdered numerous women, and his favorite bar, the «Golden Glove», where schmaltzy German songs move the pub punters to tears, and drinking is a reflex against pain in post-war Germany.

It’s a horrific story, but the attention to detail is amazing. As well as the make-up!

Go see it!

12.   BERLIN BOUNCER

Sven Marquardt of Berghain – Berlin Bouncer
©Flare Film GmbH

Berlin Bouncer is a documentary about three legendary bouncers – Frank, Sven and Smiley!

Back in the day, I used to be a hard-core clubber and one of the clubs mentioned – Berghain – was my regular weekend spot for techno vibes in the Berlin capital!

Of course, in those days, we expat locals knew Berghain as OstGut – it’s original name!

This film chronicles an exciting piece of Berlin’s cultural history – from the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall up to the pulsating present, so is it any wonder that I very much wanted to see the film!

In the late 1980s, Frank Künster came from West Germany to Berlin which was a special territory due to the fact that Berlin was divided by the Red Curtain into East and West, and was actually in the middle of East German territory (Brandenburg), Smiley Baldwin, an American G.I., who was one of the American soldiers who came over to guard the border to East Berlin, and sort of never left, and Sven Marquardt, a young punk and photographer, in East Berlin.

In fact, out of the three, Sven Marquardt is most easily recognisable as his usual garb is black leather, black boots, silver jewellery, long salt and pepper hair, and a well-groomed beard half-covered by a face full of tattoos and piercings. I live in Prenzlauerberg, and I sometimes used to see him at the tram stop!

Berlin Bouncer – the story of three legendary bouncers – Sven, Frank and Smiley!

Once the Berlin Wall fell, it was not long before all three found themselves caught up in the city’s wild nightlife of the 1990s, where they soon became the legendary ‘guardians’ of the city’s hippest clubs.

This film is a behind-the-scene look of how they all got started, what it was like at the time, the diversity of life in Berlin and their own real-life story now that they’re pushing 50, all appropriately accompanied by the infectiously pounding club sounds which have become a kind of second heartbeat not only for the protagonists of the film, but before the audience, and myself, who were in the scene when Berlin was the techno capital of the world.

And it still is!

Our film screening venue at the Berlinale was so packed that people were sitting on the floor!

It’s going to be shown at cinemas in Germany, so if you happen to be here, watch it. If not, look for it wherever.

You’ll love it!

13.   BUOYANCY

Sarm Heng – Buoyancy
©Rafael Winer

Buoyancy is about Chakra – a 14-year-old boy from Cambodia.

Chakra has a hard life toiling in the rice fields, along with his parents and siblings, when a friend tells him about the possibility of earning money in a factory. He then decides to secretly leaves home, in search of a better life.

Unfortunately, he is deceived, falls into the clutches of human traffickers, is sold to a Thai broker and enslaved on a fishing trawler. As fellow slaves are tortured and murdered around him, he decides his only hope of freedom is to become as violent as his captors.

Buoyancy is the first feature film of Rodd Rathjen’s, and in fact, the screening that I saw was the first public film screening that it has ever done. Ever!

The film is a brutal, yet realistic depiction of the current situation of Cambodian and Myanmar forced labourers.

This film isn’t pretty and spares no-one, but it’s very gripping, with a passionate message of social injustice and a touching and shocking coming-of-age story about a young boy, and humanity put to the test.

Go and see it!

  1.    DI JIU TIAN CHANG|SO LONG, MY SON
Yong Mei & Wang Jingchun – Di jiu tian chang | So Long, My Son
© Li Tienan / Dongchun Films

 

Di jiu tian chang|So Long, My Son is a film that traces the lives of two families over three decades of social, political and human upheaval in China.

Part melodrama, part critique of the times, this film takes us from China’s turbulence from the end of the Cultural Revolution in the 1980’s, to the prospering turbo-capitalism of today.

Yaoyun and his wife Liyun’ were once a happy family – until their young son drowned playing by a reservoir. Following the loss of their child, the two families separate.

And so Yaojun and Liyun leave their home and plunge into the big city, although nobody knows them there and they cannot understand the local dialect, and their adopted son – Liu Xing – does not offer them the comfort they had hoped for either.

Yet even as their lives diverge, a common search for truth and reconciliation around the tragedy remains and they decide to return back to their roots.

This film was impressive. I didn’t understand how the adopted son came into the story and even though I nodded off a little, I happily sat and watched it for 3+ hours!

I would happily sit back and watch it again!

  1.    FÜR FRAUEN. 1. KAPITEL|FOR WOMEN – CHAPTER 1
Für Frauen. 1. Kapitel For Women | Chapter 1 – West Germany 1972 – Ulla Lange, Helga Freyer, Edda Hertel & Janine Rickmann
©Deutsche Kinemathek / DFFB

Equal pay for equal work! Stand up for your rights!

This was said by four (4) female employees at a West Berlin supermarket, who felt heavy pressure both at work and at home, and who went on strike to demand the same salary that their male colleagues got.

This 1972 documentary film Für Frauen. 1. Kapitel For Women | Chapter 1 was scripted and acted by the performers themselves who were not professional actors but simply, supermarket sales assistants and housewives!

And you get to see customers smoking in the shop, long hair on both sexes, extremely tight trousers, very short dresses, men refusing to lift boxes as “it’s women work” and sadly, the pinching and grabbing of bottoms as well as sexist jokes, as women walk by.

That notwithstanding, the film is quite funny and was digitally restored in 2018.

If you can get your hands on it, it’s a historical treasure!

FILMS THAT I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE SEEN, BUT DIDN’T!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!
  1.   37 Seconds by HIKARI – Japan 2019

17.  8 Tage|8 Days by Rafael Parente and Peter Kocyla – Germany 2018

18.   Berlin–Prenzlauer Berg. Begegnungen zwischen dem 1. Mai und dem 1. Juli 1990|Berlin Prenzlauer Berg – Encounters between 1st of May and 1st of July 1990 by Petra Tschörtner – Germany 1990

19.  Gully Boy by Zoya Akhtar – India 2018

20.  Guo chun tian|The Crossing by Bai XuePeople’s Republic of China 2019

FILMS THAT WERE A WASTE OF MY TIME!

 

  • MONȘTRI|MONSTERS 
Judith State – Monștri | Monsters
©Luchian Ciobanu

 

Monștri | Monsters is about a marred couple in Romania.

It’s a relationship drama of loneliness, sex and the current emotional state of a couple, over 24 hours!

Dana’s loneliness is palpable when she, instead of going home, decides to switch off her phone and pay the taxi driver for a whole night of merely driving around and through Bucharest.

Meanwhile, her husband goes to the gym and meets another equally married man for sex in a strangers’ apartment.

The next morning, Dana and Andrei meet in their marital bed and spend the day together. Perhaps for the last time.

A man and a woman lost in their relationship.

I’ve seen it all before.

Blah! Blah! Blah!

  • ELTERNSCHULE|PARENTS’ SCHOOL
Elternschule | Parents’ School – Lola at Berlinale
Jörg Adolph, Ralf Bücheler

I have mixed feelings about Elternschule | Parents’ School.

This film is a documentary that portrays several families seeking psychiatric treatment at a German clinic.

This is a last resort to deal with their seemingly unresolvable parenting issues and both Ralf Bücheler and Jörg Adolph deliver a chilling insight into our society, and its troubled relationship with its children.

It was interesting in itself but I don’t think it had any place in this film festival, and all I could think of was, “I could be watching something else!”

Ahem!

Me at the Berlin International Film Festival aka the Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – February 2016

In watching a festival film, you get to see a large variety of international locations and settings, and a better intimate view with acting and scenes, that are much more realistic than in films with a Hollywood budget!

The Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, is a special treat for the public.

See you next year!

How to start a blog in just a mere 10 minutes: A simple guide!

If you want to be like me when you grow up – a well-respected smart British – German blogger, all you have to do is to get yourself a website host such as Blue Host, and open up the website of wordpress.com.

It’s really easy and can be done in all of 10 minutes!

Here’s a simple guide I wrote, about how to start a blog!

WordPress.com

Not only that, if you start a new blog in MARCH, there’s an exclusive sale for 20% off WordPress.com!

For the 20% discount, use the coupon code. Click here!

  • Dates: Sunday, February 24th – Sunday, March 10th
  • Coupon Code: DISCOUNT20
  • Can be used for: WordPress.com & Jetpack

If you’re still having problems or would prefer a step-by-step live guide, I offer a personal consultancy which can be done in either English or German!

Nifty!

 

THE TOP 20 FESTIVAL FILMS YOU SHOULD REALLY WATCH IN 2019!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received press accredited rates for tickets, all opinions and the impressive festival films that I saw, are my very, very own!

It’s March!

I’m going to be on German TV again!

I went to Norway. Watch out for the details!

I’ll be continuing my How To Visit India posts in March / April!

March is going to be pretty!

Catch me if you can!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

Watch this space!

Please note that there are four affiliate link companies connected to this post! Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

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!

So what are you waiting for?

Go watch films!

Thanks a million!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

Do you like films? Are any of the above festival films, the type of films that you would watch? Spill the beans!

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!

A Beginners’ Guide to the 69th Berlinale. Yes! The Berlin International Film Festival 2019 is finally here!

Mr. Jones at the Berlinale – the Berlin International Film Festival – Competition 2019 by Agnieszka Holland starring James Norton
© Robert Palka Film Produkcja

OMG!

Go!

Go!!

Go!!!

I’ve told you before and I’ll probably tell you a million times over, living in Berlin is awfully fabulous!

I mean, there’s just so much to do!

At Sputnik Kino for Die rbb Reporter in Berlin!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner / Kay S. Abaño [www.kayabano.com]
Victoria smiling for Die rbb Reporter in Berlin!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner / Kay S. Abaño [www.kayabano.com]

Only a few weeks ago I was telling you all about how I could afford to travel all over Europe, rush through Bruges in Belgium, get scammed in Berlin, be utterly bored by Romania, proud as punch to be invited for the Royal Reception of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, asked to explore Sweden, Latvia and Estonia on a press trip, and got completely lost and trapped in India!

With family in tow!

And just the other week, I was in the German newspaper – Der Tagesspiegel – (Berlin-Brexit Stories #2 on 15th January 2019 – 17:56), and I’m going to be on TV again on 13.03.19!

It’s going to be in connection with Brexit and British Expats in Berlin / Germany.

And just like last time, a TV crew contacted me, and asked if they could follow me about for, you know, a typical day in the life of a travel, expat, lifestyle British blogger!

Recording was at the British Shorts Film Festival that took place at the Sputnik Kino in Berlin.

The programme will be shown on – Die rbb Reporter | rbb – Briten in Berlin und Brandenburg – Deutscher Pass statt Brexit-Chaos or Brits in Berlin and Brandenburg – German passport instead of Brexit-Chaos on 20.02.19 at 21:00.

UPDATE: The rbb Brexit reportage has been postponed to: 13.03.19 at 21:15!

Save the Date!

I’ll write more about it later on in the month!

Yay!

Robert Pattinson at the Berlinale – Damsel – What a sexy gorgeous bloke!
© Gerhard Kassner / Berlinale

And now, ladies and gents, the red carpet has been rolled out yet again, and Berlin is about to hobnob with the best of the best. I mean, if it’s good enough for Bill Murray, Helen Mirren and Robert Pattinson. It’s surely good enough for you!

And why forsooth?

Because?

Because the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, is in town!

Now for those of you interested in getting a piece of the action it’s really quite easy.

WHAT IS THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE?

The new 69th Berlinale 2019 Film Programme!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2019

Well, the Berlinale is simply, the world’s largest public film festival which provides an audience of interested film-goers, a city full of excitement, a diverse cultural scene, fascinating new films, up and coming artists, and an opportunity to see, talk to, and take close-up pictures, of international stars in the movie world!

The public programme of the Berlinale shows about 400 films per year of mostly international or European premieres of every genre, length and format!

Freak Show by Trudie Styler – Generation
©Maven Pictures

Formats such as:

  • Epic international cinema (Competition)
  • Independent art house (Panorama)
  • Films for a younger audience or indeed, anyone young at heart (Generation)
  • New discoveries and promising talent from the German film scene (Perspektive Deutsches Kino)
  • Avant-garde, experimental cinematography (Forum / Forum Expanded)
  • International film history consisting of cinematographic rediscoveries, high-quality film prints, digital screening formats, film aesthetics, film technology, and historical black and white documentary filming. For 2019, the focus is on the presepctive of female filmmakers (Retrospective)
  • Film classics and digitally restored film classics and rediscovered films  (Berlinale Classics)
  • Cult films curated by the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen (the German Cinematheque – Museum for Film and Television) and that pay tribute to the lifetime achievement of great and inspirational film stars or personalities (Homage)
  • Films about food (Culinary Cinema)
  • Art house cinemas within Berlin (Berlinale Goes Kiez)
  • Cinematic story-telling of Indigenous people around the world (NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema)
  • New and extraordinary productions via the honouring of the glamorous, the extraordinary, and influential cinema personalities (Berlinale Special)
  • An exclusive first look at exciting new series productions from around the world (Berlinale Series)
  • And brilliant art house cinema short pieces (Berlinale Shorts)

The Berlin International Film Festival is a source of inspiration in the global film community, encouraging the influx of film programmes, workshops, panel discussions, joint projects, and other creative outlets and networking possibilities via:

Berlinale Talent – 12 fantastic festival films you should really watch with meeeee!
© Berlinale
  • The European Film Market (EFM) an international marketplace for the new film year, and a platform for innovation and change
  • The Berlinale Co-Production Market a forum for international networking and matching projects, producers, and money institutions for film production
  • The Berlinale Talents which introduces high-profile professionals to 250 promising young international film makers
  • The World Cinema Fund (WCF) which provides financial support to boost cultural diversity in German and European cinemas as well as film projects in countries with weak film infrastructure
  • And the Berlinale Residency programme which offers international directors, financial support and funding to live in Berlin for a few months, and to start their next film project

Yeah baby!

Victoria & Wes Anderson. And a lady who accidentally photo-bombed us! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

And with more than:

  • 332,403 sold tickets
  • 18,080 professional visitors
  • 130 countries
  • 3,688 journalists
  • Art
  • Glamour
  • Parties
  • Networking
  • The Business of Film-Making

 

I’m actually in the video above. This was the first “star” Press Conference at the Berlinale, and I’m standing right behind the journalist who asked Bryan Cranston that super interesting question!

You simply can’t go wrong!

That’s right.

From the 7th of February to the 17th February, 2019, Berlin will be packed solid, with members of the film industry.

My heart swells and is almost fit to bursting, when I know that Berlin is competing with the likes of other film festivals, in Cannes, and Sundance.

Alright, not in the same category, but still.

In my opinion, a festival to be proud of!

With more than four hundred (400) films, fifteen (15) categories sections, and more than half a million cinema visits, the Berlinale is not only an independent film festival with a difference, but also a film festival that ordinary people can actually visit.

Ordinary punters at the Berlinale. You know. People like YOU!
© Peter Kreibich – Berlinale Goes Kiez

Yes, that means YOU!

A world international festival can sometimes be daunting, so I’m going to try and make it as easy as possible, so that you too can participate.

If you want to!

Read my beginners’ guide and find out how!

A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE 69TH BERLINALE. YES! THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019 IS FINALLY HERE!

George Clooney at the Berlinale. So cool. So relaxed. So sexy. So …
©Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
  • BE PREPARED: The Berlinale always takes place in February so get yourself on the mailing list of the Berlinale, so that you know when the official Berlinale programme is published.
  • USE THE INTERNET: There is a Berlinale homepage in both English and German. On the homepage is a Programme Section which also has a most valuable item called the Berlinale programme or Programmsuche. Use this item to filter and search for films so that you have an idea of what you might want to see BEFORE the film festival begins.
Search for a programme at the Berlinale
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • GET THE PROGRAMME: If you’re not entirely sure what each film is about, you can either download the pdf format or if you’re in Berlin (and why wouldn’t you be!), you can pretty much find the programme brochures / publications in every cinema forum in the city, as well as the Potsdamer Platz Shopping Arcade (Arkaden), every Berlinale Box Office, many theatre box offices, and in pubs, bars, cafés, and restaurants everywhere!

It’s free of charge. Just help yourself!

  • USE TECHNOLOGY: Not only can you use the Berlinale programme for your personal searches but you can also get into the 21st century and download the Apps (for Android and iOS) which links into the programme so that you can mark your favourite film or event at home, or on the move, and still remain up-to-date across multiple devices. The app also provides Berlinale information about Press Conferences and Photo Calls, festival venues, festival events and an overview of festival video broadcasts, the Opening and Closing Gala, as well as all the fun on the Red Carpet!

Relax & check my social media feed about the Berlinale, on Twitter & Facebook!

  • USE SOCIAL MEDIA: The Berlinale is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube – with the hashtag #Berlinale or #Berlinale2019. You can also follow my Twitter titbits and little quips here! Not only that, but around the Potsdamer Platz Arcade, WiFi is available for 2 hours per day per person, and there are other WiFi hotspots scattered around in various venues. For free!
  • MAKE A LIST: Once you have a rough idea of what you want to see, go ahead and make a list. Don’t forget to put the date, the name of the film in it’s original language and in English or German, the section category, the country of origin, the venue, and the time of screening.

Then make a second list with different films. Just in case.

And a third one too!

Look at the packed crowd for the World Premiere of The Bookshop, at Friedrichstadt-Palast. Aim to arrive early!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • CHECK THE FILM TIME: People get really excited when punters finally get the film of their dream and then discover very soon after, that they can’t actually watch it, ‘cos they’re still at a previous showing!

Just because the film states a starting time of 20:00 doesn’t actually mean that it’s going to start at 20:00! Films start late, discussions over lap. Deal with it!

I find that putting films three (3) hours apart generally leaves more than enough room to manoeuvre. So, if for example, a film starts at 09:30, the next film I book is at 12:30 and not anything less! Most films tend to last between 80 and 100 minutes but you want to give yourself time for overlaps, and also for getting from A to B. Berlin’s public transport system is fantastic but you still have to wade your way through the crowds to get out of the venue itself, and then go downstairs to your next train station, not to talk of wading yourself through more crowds, at the next film venue!

If you plan well, you can even use the Berlinale shuttle bus departing every hour which can be used by each and every Berlinale festival visitor travelling between Potsdamer Platz (Linkstraße, close to the entrance of U2) and Haus der Kulturen der Welt (main entrance), and is absolutely free of charge!

  • LEAVE EARLY: Doors generally open 10 – 15 minutes before the film starts, so make sure you’re in the queue at least 20 minutes before the movie begins. If it’s a popular film, give yourself 30 minutes, as there is no allocated seating. First come, first served n’ all that!

No seat is a dud in my opinion, but if you have preferred seating, or want to get comfy with the new plush seats available in some cinema venues, then get there early.

Get your Berlinale film tickets in person!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

This means that you’re going to have to gird your loins, get all your mates together and be smart and efficient. Each individual can only buy 2 tickets per film, except for Generation (children / youth films) which you can buy, 5 tickets at a time, and Culinary Cinema film screenings at 19:30, and you can buy as many as you like!

You can of course, cross your fingers and buy on the day if tickets are available at the box office of the cinemas themselves. Ticket counters open daily from 10:00 to 20:00, with people forming a queue from as early as 08:00!

Oh, and don’t forget.

For Same-Day tickets, only hard cash is accepted!

If you don't feel up to being with the rabble, not a problem, use your fingers and go online to buy tickets at the Berlinale instead!
If you don’t feel up to being with the rabble, not a problem, use your fingers and go online to buy tickets at the Berlinale instead!
  • BUYING TICKETS ONLINE: If you don’t feel up to being with the hoi polloi, not a problem, use your fingers and go online instead!

On the programme page is an online ticket icon. If you click on it, you’ll be directed to the online ticket shop but be warned, the other buyers are keen film-goers and pros. at this game. You’ll need firm fingers to keep clicking and refreshing, in order to get those tickets. Or better still, allocate yourself an army of friends to help you.

You know how concert tickets sell out in 10 minutes? Yep! They use the same method. Friends! Mates! Neighbours!

Everyone you know!

Grab a few friends to help you buy your Berlinale ticket!
Grab a few friends to help you buy your Berlinale ticket!

If you click on the Online Tickets icon, you will automatically be forwarded to the website of the Berlinale ticketing partner – Eventim. You’ll have to create an Eventim account. There is no processing fee, so what you see is what you pay!

You can also use a major credit card and the tickets will be delivered to you by either Email, on your mobile phone, or you can simply pick the tickets up at the Online Ticket Pick-up Counter in the Potsdamer Platz Arcade shopping centre, by showing your printed confirmation and some sort of ID.

There’s also an exclusive ticket counter for punters with MasterCard!

Berlinale ticket prices are very reasonable!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

If you register by telephone for Generation tickets, groups of at least 6 people or more, can buy their tickets at a cost of just €3.50 each!

Oh, and you need to be at least 18 years old to see any of the films (except for Generation screenings).

Roll up! Roll up! Queue up & come & get your ticket!
© Peter Kreibich – Berlinale Goes Kiez
  • NO TICKET: If you still haven’t got the ticket you want, then go ahead and get any other film ticket instead!

The whole point of a film festival are the intriguing films that are made available. Every film has passed muster, and outside of your own personal preference, none of the films are duds.

Go on live a little!

If you’re still unsure, then go to the venue of your choice and either hold out a sign that you’re looking for an extra ticket, or look for individuals who might want to sell theirs. Don’t deal with touts!

If the individual looks nice enough and has 1 or 2 tickets rather than 20, and is willing to sell it at market price, or even cheaper, then go for it!

  • WATCH YOUR THROAT: After watching quite a few films, the throat does tend to take a bit of a beating as the rooms can get a bit dry, so arm yourself with water and cough drops. Take a scarf too, in case the air-con is at full blast!
A film industry and press-only conference – Isle of Dogs – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
A film industry and press-only conference – Isle of Dogs – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • PRESS: If you’re a press person, you should have been through the accreditation process and looking forward to picking up your badge and Berlinale gift bag!

Last year, a dedicated Press Screening Guide was made available. And was a godsend!

It’s proving to be the same in 2019!

The press screening guide has information about press screenings, and other events that are available to accredited journalists and media representatives.

And I used the Press Screening Guide to the full!

Nevertheless, even press people have to organise themselves, as film tickets are only made available one (1) day prior, and so I found myself checking into the Grand Hyatt Berlin on a daily basis!

At 08:00 in the morning.

Eeek!

After a hard day at the Berlinale, surely I deserve a glass of champagne! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

On the other hand, free water, free coffee (Ouch!) free WiFi, a press room, comfy seats, and a quick means of getting all the press stuff and press tickets that you need, are provided.

Everyone is always so helpful and kind because I’m now a pro!

I usually manage to get 99% of the film tickets that I want. However, on the very last film festival day, I sometimes end up buying tickets from my own pocket at the cinema box office, as press tickets are sometimes in limited supply, especially if I really, really, really want to watch something!

All in all, I pretty much get every film ticket that I want.

Thank you Berlinale Press Team!

Vai – NATIVe 2019 at the Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival
© New Zealand Film Commission
  • BE OPEN TO A NEW EXPERIENCE: I love going to film festivals and one of the main reasons is that in many cases, the films that you get to see at such events will never be shown at regular cinemas, or ever at all!

I mean, I hardly doubt that a weird film about a businessman who’s so burnt out, that he spends 14 days eating apples in a monastery in Burma, a mother and daughter who spend all day screaming at each other in Beijing, a black and white film about illegitimate foster children in 1920’s Germany, or an old couple who also happen to be traditional reindeer hunters, living all alone in the North Pole, is going to be shown at a local cinema near you!

I really don’t think so!

In my case, I aim for weird Asian films, obscure East European films, Anglo-American films with controversial topics, German films with a twist, and films over issues that I would never usually go for, ‘cos they’re just not shown at your local flick!

Kislota | Acid by Alexander Gorchilin – Panorama 2019 – Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival
© Studio SLON / Kislota
  • STAY FOR Q&A: The beauty of an international film festival or any film festival at all, is that everyone tends to be there.

You get stars such as Christian Bale (Batman / American Psycho), Martin Freeman (Sherlock Holmes), Diane Kruger, Catherine Deneuve, Bill Nighy, James Norton, Stellan Skarsgård (Pirates of the Caribbean / Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again ), Casey Affleck, Jonah Hill, Jamie Bell (King Kong), Tilda Swinton, Juliette Binoche, Trudie Styler (wife of Sting), Moritz Bleibtreu, Peter Sarsgaard (husband of Maggie Gyllenhaal), Die Toten Hosen, Peter Lindbergh.

And directors such as Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Idris Elba (Luther), Rupert Everett (The Importance of Being Earnest), Steven Soderbergh (the Ocean’s Trilogy), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), as well as other other directors, producers, and actors.

In fact, everyone!

Helena Bonham Carter sat behind me at the Berlinale,and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

A few years ago, Helena Bonham Carter sat behind me and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!

Actors, directors and producers tend to go out to the front and apart from staring at them really closely, you can ask them questions about their films or their thoughts surrounding that film. And being that this is Berlin, everyone’s really chilled and not freaking out, or going crazy!

Not inside the cinema theatre in any case.

The gorgeous Idris Elba at the Berlinale – the Berlin International Film Festival – Director – Yardie 2018. You can just about see my pink phone cover!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
And here’s the very same photo I took of Idris Elba – Director of Yardie – Zoo Palast – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

If there’s a hottie on the red carpet like George Clooney, Robert Pattinson, Idris Elba, or Natalie Dormer, all that flies out of the window, and people start screaming!

I mean, it sometimes goes insane.

Natalie Dormer was here to promote Picnic at Hanging Rock, & all I could think of was Game of Thrones!
© Thomas Lobenwein – Berlinale Series

The actors are always calm, professional and charming (especially George, Robert, Idris, & Natalie. We’re on first name basis now of course!) but the audience just lose themselves with star-lust, over-whelmingness, or the fact that film premier tickets can sell out surprisingly quickly, and not be found for love or money.

If you didn’t know somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody way up there, chances were, you wouldn’t get a look in!

The atmosphere once you get indoors, really is comforting and quite frankly, it’s nice.

Helen Mirren at the Berlinale. Because anyone who matters is here!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

And all for the price of a cinema ticket.

Less in some cases!

  • MAKE FRIENDS: Chat to the person next to you.

Find your friends and partners and go for a well deserved late night drink!

We’re so chilled in Berlin. Bring your beer in at the Kino Casablanca. And make friends!
Berlinale Goes Kiez -© Peter Kreibich
  • TAKE ACTION: Now that you know what to do, go ahead and get yourself a film ticket, and do it all over again the next day!

See you at the Berlinale!

A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE 69TH BERLINALE. YES! THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019 IS FINALLY HERE!

Joaquin Phoenix at the Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival – Competition – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot 2018
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

This article is not sponsored and even though I receive press tickets, all opinions and the brilliant festival films that I choose, are my very, very own!

It’s February!

I’m going to be on German TV again!

I went to Norway. Watch out for the details!

I’ll be continuing my How To Visit India posts in February / March!

I’ll be at the 69th Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival taking place between 07.02.19 – 17.02.19, everyone who is anyone will be in Berlin!

Will you?

Save the Date!

February is delightfully rushed!

Catch me if you can!

How I went to 8 exciting countries, went to India, lost my luggage & got trapped and confused in Delhi!

Watch this space!

Please note that there are two affiliate link companies connected to this post! Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

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!

Let’s get ready for the Berlinale!

Thanks a million!

A Beginners’ Guide to the 69th Berlinale. Yes! The Berlin International Film Festival 2019 is finally here!

Have you ever been to a film festival? What actor would you like to see on the Red Carpet? Are you excited? 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

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