How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager -
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – “The Tall Young Gentleman”

Teenagers! You’ve got to love ’em!

And when you’re travelling or going abroad, you’ve got to think of things differently, as teenagers are not children per se, but neither are they adults.

They’re gangly young people, looking to explore the world, find their feet, and live life to the full.

And if you’re like me. You’ll let them do it, and give them the  gift of travel!

Teenagers. Give them the gift of travel!
Teenagers. Give them the gift of travel!

Children are versatile.

And they don’t really need much.

All they need is plenty of food, a safe and clean place to lay their head, wi-fi, a bit of space to lay out all their “stuff”and you!

Yes, you.

The parent!

We are Family. And then We Were Three. In Wales!
We are Family. And then We Were Three.
In Wales!

You don’t have to wait until “they’re old enough to know.”

Believe you me. They know!

You don’t have to wait until “they understand the benefits” of travel.

What are you talking about`?

Teenagers. Give them the gift of travel!
Teenagers. Give them the gift of travel!

Any place that is different from home and in which they can learn about other places, other cultures, and other people, is a marvellous thing.

The younger they are, the easier it is, and the better for all!

Our son as a baby - 20 months old!
Our son as a baby – 20 months old!

I started travelling with our son when he was just 5 months old. I put him in a baby carrier, dumped all his toys and baby stuff in the car, and breast-fed him all the way!

And by the time he was 5 years old, he had been to 32 countries, and at 12, he was already talking about spending his GAP year in Thailand, so there’s that!

There is plenty to do in Lucerne so
“The Tall Young Gentleman” in Switzerland. Give your teenagers the gift of travel!

I love travelling with our son, and even though he’s 14, it won’t be long until he’ll want to be travelling with his friends.

In Northern European countries that age tends to be between 16 and 17 years old as young people are more independent, and their parents liberal, tolerant, and open-minded.

In that wise, I decided to go to Amsterdam for the weekend, with our teenager in tow!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager -
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – “The Tall Young Gentleman”

Interestingly enough, our German friends didn’t blink an eye when I told them. Not so my Anglo-American friends who were visibly shocked and worried.

Not to worry.

This is what happened.

HOW TO VISIT AMSTERDAM IN TWO DAYS. WITH A TEENAGER!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

I took my teenager to Amsterdam!

I know!

I started my international travel adventure for 2017 a fortnight (two weeks) ago, by taking a weekend trip to Holland.

To Amsterdam.

When people think of Amsterdam, their ears immediately prick up, and their eyes bulge intensely at the exotic-ness of that city of sin….

Nightlife in Amsterdam...
Nightlife in Amsterdam…

However, people live in Amsterdam. I mean, people people.

Real people. Ordinary people. People who have to get up in the morning and work in an office, take the train, or in this case, ride their bicycles.

In 2015, I wrote about the other stuff.  The stuff that “decent” people whisper over. The naughty stuff….

And here’s the link!

This time around, I’m writing about the family-friendly Amsterdam.

Here goes!

SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT AMSTERDAM

Dutch children in traditional costume.
Dutch children in traditional costume.

Amsterdam is a small capital city in Europe. It’s one of those places steeped in history and glory.

Indeed, as a 12th century fishing hamlet, it’s done rather well as a naval trading giant in the 17th century hunting for spoils and riches, before Britain came and took away such treasures as New Amsterdam (from Amsterdam in Holland), that later relegated to New York (from York in England). We also know of the conflicts and tribulations that Amsterdam had to go through in order to keep the water at bay, and the canals safe.

Did you know that:

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager! And 165 canals!
  • Only 834,713 people actually live in Amsterdam and more than 3.6 million tourists visit every year!
  • There are 881,000 bicycles
  • 213 trams
  • 165 canals
  • 1,281 bridges
  • 2,500 barges or houseboats
  • 8,863 historical 16th, 17th, and 18th century buildings
  • 23 paintings by Rembrandt
  • 207 paintings by Van Gogh
  • And 8 windmills!

DAY ONE (1) – WHAT TO DO WITH A TEENAGER

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager -
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – “The Tall Young Gentleman”
  • Put luggage away as quickly as possible:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Get rid of luggage!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Get rid of luggage!

Checking in for most hotels is usually between 13:00 – 14:00 so if you’re not driving, put your luggage in the train station locker for efficiency and speed! For 24 hours, it costs between €7.00 – €10. We had just arrived by overnight train from Berlin, so it was well worth not lugging things around..!

Book your hotel here!

  • Feed your teenager:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - A good meal is essential!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – A good meal is essential!

Before we were going to do anything at all, I took my son to a restaurant that I knew, that served an English breakfast for under €5.00! He opted for an Italian breakfast instead, and ending up licking his chops at mine!

  • It’s always a good thing to get a local viewpoint of a place or city, and the best way to do so is on a walking tour:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager! Go on a walking tour!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
Go on a walking tour!

Now, I’ve been to been to Amsterdam loads of time, but The Tall Young Gentleman has never been to Holland.

In fact, 2 years ago, I did my own personal walking tour in Amsterdam, as my tour guide decided not to turn up!

I’m a great advocate for walking tours and go on many, such as food tours, alternative walking tours, free walking tours, and walking tours in exotic places!

There are many tour groups to choose from, but the one I chose was the Sandemans new Amstedam free walking tour.

  • Learn about Dutch culture:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

Our walking tour was great for learning all about how Dutch people live and the alternative lifestyle in Amsterdam, which even included walking through the red-light district at 12:00 in the afternoon!

Funnily enough it wasn’t this that got my teenager blushing and flustered.

After all, a lot of the red light places in Amsterdam are blended into the community, with one red-light street situation right next to a kindergarten, and opposite a church! And as for Germany, prostitution is legal and well, you know, nude or Freikörperkultur beaches abound throughout Germany. All quite normal and family-friendly!

It was this.

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

Our walking tour group gathered around to take photographs of various types, sizes and flavours, whilst my teenager and I wandered further away and talked about the weather.

Neither of us quite knew where to look!

  • Bump into cheese. And eat it:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager! And eat lots of cheese!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
And eat lots of cheese!

You surely can’t be in Holland if you don’t try some of their best famous cheese!

If you love cheese, you can pretty much go into any of the cheese shops and get to know all about the flavours, aroma, and quality of an enormous range of cheese.

We went to a place called the Cheese Inn Museum. 

It’s been around since 1967 and specialises in more than 100 different kinds of organic cheese from cheese markets in Northern Holland, as well as other equipment!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager! And eat lots of cheese!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
And eat lots of cheese!

That’s right. Amsterdam has a museum. For Cheese!

It’s free to go in, and they give you a little tour and some info so that you can experience the unique flavor of the best cheeses in Holland, and nibble away at many varieties of free cubes of cheese and sauces to taste!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager! And eat lots of cheese!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
And eat lots of cheese!

The last time I was there, I was so impressed that I bought some Dutch waffles and biscuits, some very, very, very Old Amsterdam Cheese, for – The Music Producer – who is a connoisseur.

Dutch Farmhouse Cheese with Italian Black Truffle. Mmm.

How can anyone, lest of all teenagers, resist?!

  • Take a leisurely stroll, and walk in and out of little back streets, and on the river-side:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - You might be surprised at what you might see!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – You might be surprised at what you might see!

Start from Amsterdam Central Station to Dam Square, and then explore. Just remind your teenagers to watch their bags as the area is packed with tourists, as well as pick-pockets. Think Leicester Square (London), Times Square (New York), or Alexanderplatz (Berlin).

Damrak is crowded and there’s loads of weird people and strange shops. You might not like it, but your teenager will! And for obvious reasons, you wouldn’t want them to be there alone. So take a deep breath and go with them…!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - You might be surprised at what you might see!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – You might be surprised at what you might see!

The picture above shows the Waag or traditional weighing house and is a 15th-century building on the Nieuwmarkt Square in Amsterdam.

It was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam, and also served as a guildhall, a museum, a fire station and anatomical theatre, and now a restaurant!

The Waag is the oldest remaining non-religious building in Amsterdam and can even be seen in Rembrandt’s 1632 painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp!

  • Go ice-skating:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Ice-skating galore! @I amsterdam - Hans Guldemond
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Ice-skating galore!
@I amsterdam – Hans Guldemond

Somehow, I always seem to be in Holland in the winter!

One year, we actually walked across part of the Northern Sea, and people’s yachts and boats were frozen!

Thankfully, Amsterdam isn’t that extreme so merely ice-skating will have to do! The ICE*Amsterdam presents a unique ice skating experience on Amsterdam’s Museumplein, with the Rijksmuseum as a phenomenal backdrop, where your teenager can not only do some nifty ice-skating, but curling and ice hockey too!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - ice-skating!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – ice-skating!

You can’t do this every year though as the ice rink is only open from 18.11.16 – 05.02.17, and temperatures have to drop to -4°C or below, for four (4) consecutive nights, to produce ice thick enough to skate on. And it did!

In fact, while we were there, Amsterdam was freezing cold!

DAY TWO (2) – WHAT TO DO WITH A TEENAGER

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager -
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – “The Tall Young Gentleman”
  • Take a cruise:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Take a boat tour on the river!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Take a boat tour on the river!

I just so love rivers.

The waterside tells you such a lot about a place and it’s people. The buildings, the bridges, and the houseboats. The dykes and the street corners where condemned criminals were once hanged for all to see.

The rivers are so exquisite that the canals in Amsterdam have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Fancy that!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Take a boat tour on the river!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Take a boat tour on the river!

Or if you’re short on cash, hop on the free public ferry service behind the Centraal train Station and set sail for NDSM-wharf, a derelict shipyard turned avant-garde arts community.

Check out the recycled-junk sculptures, graffiti artists roaming the streets and giant wooden tiki head watching over it all.

It goes to Amsterdam-Noord. There are various routes, but the most common ones are the short ferry to Buiksloterweg (roughly every 10 minutes) and the long ferry (every half hour) to the NDSM Wharf. You can get more information about the destinations, the routes and an interactive map here!

  • Cycle through the city:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Cycle through the city!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Cycle through the city!

I’m not the best cyclist in the world, but I like places that worship the bike.

In Europe, we love our bikes and use them, and you can’t go far wrong if you want to ride your bicycle in Amsterdam! Even Dutch Royalty are known to go about on their very own bicycles as Amsterdam is enormously flat and quite honestly, was designed very much with 17th century horses and carts in mind!

  • Visit a museum:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit a museum! @I amsterdam - Philipp Benedikt
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit a museum!
@I amsterdam – Philipp Benedikt

Amsterdam has a variety of really great museums. All which would give your teenager something to do. And if it’s cold, wet and rainy.

All the better.

The best museums / attractions to visit with a teenager are the following:

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit the Amsterdam Dungeon!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit the Amsterdam Dungeon!
  1. The Amsterdam Museum
  2. The Rijksmuseum
  3. The Van Gogh Museum
  4. The Ann Frank House Museum
  5. Micropia
  6. The Rembrandt House Museum
  7. The Joods Historisch Museum or the Jewish Historical Museum
  8. The Tassenmuseum Hendrikje or The Museum of Bags and Purses
  9. The Museum Willet-Holthuysen
  10. Het Grachtenhuis or The Museum of the Canals
  11. The Woonbootmuseum or the Houseboat Museum
  12. The Heineken Experience
  13. The Amsterdam Dungeon
  14. Body Worlds Amsterdam
  15. And the Amsterdam Light Festival

We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, and only managed to get to the two (2) museums below:

  • The Amsterdam Museum:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit a museum!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit a museum!

I was very eager to visit the Amsterdam Museum as it focuses on the story and history of Amsterdam through a large number of masterpieces, such as an aerial map from the Middle Ages, Breitner’s The Dam, and lots of interactive material and images that you could touch, see, listen to, use, read, and experience.

I love museums where you don’t have to treat things like delicate treasures, and can really get to grips with “using” the items!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

An audio guide is provided so that you can do your own self-guided tour, in a variety of popular languages. And it’s free of charge, which I greatly appreciated!

Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it.

And if you’re short of time, or don’t feel like doing anything too “heavy” the interactive Amsterdam DNA exhibition, can be “done” in just one (1) hour!

Cost: Adults: €12.50. Students: €10.00. Children 5-18: €6.50. Under 4: Free of charge.

  • The Rijksmuseum:
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit a museum!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit a museum!

The Rijksmuseum is the iconic museum of the Netherlands.

The Rijksmuseum’s world-famous collection was presented via going on a journey through the ages, and a sense of beauty and of time.

In 80 galleries, 8,000 objects tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, from the Middle Ages to Mondrian. And even though The Tall Young Gentleman is just 14 years old, he really enjoyed the Rembrandt art and imaginary mythical creatures, and was upset when after just 2 hours, it was time to leave!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit a museum!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit a museum!

Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it and Night Watch alone was amazing!

Cost: Adults: €17.50. European Youth Card Holders (EYCA) / Students: €8.75. Under 18: Free of charge!

We ran out of time this time around, but if you have longer, check out the others!

p.s. Don’t forget to book or reserve museum tickets online, in order to escape the queues at peak periods!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager - Visit a museum! The Heineken Experience!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – Visit a museum!
The Heineken Experience!

Sadly, by 17:00, it was time to take our train back to Berlin.

It was clear that we had a most interesting time.

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

My blog is not about what’s right and what’s wrong. If you look deep enough you’ll see that it’s all about what’s different, the other, the edge. It’s also all rather tongue-in-cheek!

And Amsterdam is a perfect example. It’s a lovely quaint city with an exposed diverse edge. It’s cosmopolitan, and at the same time Dutch in style. It’s romantic and beautiful, but tolerant and diverse. It’s rich and lively, but quiet and authentic. It’s charming and also like any other capital city, beautifully flawed.

Go see for yourself.

Thanks so much Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum!

Book your hotel here!

HOW TO VISIT AMSTERDAM IN TWO DAYS. WITH A TEENAGER!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received complimentary museum tickets, all opinions and the delightful Dutch cheese that I happily consumed, are my very own!

It’s January!

I’ll be making an announcement this month that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!

The British Council Literature Seminar – #BritLitBerlin – will take place from 26.01.17 – 28.01.17

If you’re a blogger and you’re in town, then come and meet us at the Berlin Travel Massive February MeetUp on February 9th.

The 67th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, will take place from 09.02.17 – 19.02.17

Strictly Stand Up – The English Comedy Night will take place at the Quatsch comedy Club on 15.02.17. Save the Date!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, what are you waiting for!

January is going to be striking!

Watch this space!

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

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

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

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Would you take a teenager? Have your say!

See you in Berlin.

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

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

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How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!

You have to take action to get it!!
You have to take action to get it!!

It’s 2017 and it’s January. At the beginning of every new year, it’s the norm to think about what you did last year and what you’re going to do this year.

Last year, I travelled to 10 counties. 10 countries!

However did I do that?

My husband - The Music Producer and I in Milan - Italy.
My husband – The Music Producer and I in Milan – Italy.

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

I didn’t win the lottery.

I didn’t quit my job.

I didn’t change my lifestyle.

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

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

I didn’t sell my stuff!

The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” - Fixing bikes. As boys do!
The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” – Fixing bikes. As boys do!

So how did I do it?

Well, if you look at my About Me page, you will see that I am married, I have a son, and I have a job as a School Vice – Principal / Social Media Manager in Berlin, as well as this wonderful lifestyle, travel, expat blog!

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

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

I have family responsibilities. Just like you.

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

And by god. I have a daily budget. Absolutely, just like you.

“The Tall Young Gentleman” in Switzerland!

And yet.

And yet…..

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

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

Me at the Grotto in the Algarve - Portugal!
Me at the Grotto in the Algarve – Portugal!

I wanted to get on that plane and go to the Philippines. I wanted to visit a Chinese-speaking country. I wanted to give Spain another chance, so we went to other parts of Spain. In fact, we loved the region so much, that we added a week to Portugal as well! I wanted to take that train to Switzerland, so we did. OMG! “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I were spending money over the summer, as if it were going out of fashion, so we decided to invest in sandwiches, salad and cake whilst travelling to Luxembourg. We sort of missed our transport in Denmark, and had to buy a new ticket in Copenhagen. Again!

We were desperate to travel through the peak season of the summer holidays, so we used all the summer weekends!

We took the long-distance-inter-country-night-train.

From Berlin.

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

I’m totally mad! But I did it anyway LOL!

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

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

I'm looking gorgeous in the Philippines! ©Scott Herder - BoboandChiChi.com
I’m looking gorgeous in the Philippines!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

I’m living proof of that.

Oh yes, I’ve done my GAP year, and my backpacking era. I’ve slept in a casino, I’ve been in a hostel where not 1 but 2 complete strangers, were sleeping on my €2 /$3 per night bed! I’ve been to Scotland where my B&B (which I had already paid for mind you), had completely disappeared. Completely! I’ve booked hotels in Italy and couldn’t remember the name of our 5-star historical hotel. (thankfully, I remembered where I first saw it. In the New York Times)! I had an awful time in Barcelona, had two flight delays and ended up having to spend the complete night at the airport as my final destination was two (2) hours away, and there was no transport that could take me there!

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

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

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

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

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

Nope!

Those days were fun, but they’re over.

Absolutely.

I think!!

So book your hotel here!

This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous hotel / hostel prices in Copenhagen. I really couldn't justify the cost!
This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous hotel / hostel prices in Copenhagen. I really couldn’t justify the cost!

In short, I’m enormously happy to go to hostels and we went to quite a few last year, but we paid that little bit extra for two (2) private rooms (since our child is a teenager and a great traveller too), privacy, calmness, and security. We also went to fancy hotel resorts and even slept in an antiquated classical castle, on the German seaside!

So, how can you have it all?

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

Get yourself a backpack for motivation, work hard, then take a gap year!
Get yourself a backpack for motivation, work hard, then take a gap year!

Get yourself a backpack, work for a couple of months in a local shop, pub, or business. Take a gap year before university or after university, in the summer, in the winter, or whatever, and whenever, have about €1,000 / $1,000 or £1,000 at the initial stage. and you’re good to go!

I’m not talking about an around-the-world trip here or flight costs, just the old let’s-see-how-far-this-money-will-take me scenario. Grab an old car, grab a few friends, and off you go. If you’re in Europe, stay on the continent and do a road trip. Ditto the Americas. But my goodness, the USA is good for the greatest roadtrip of your life. If you’re in Asia, you’re gonna have a thrilling great time.

And when it’s over, it’s over!

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

Properly!

Grab a few friends, and off you go. You're gonna have a thrilling great time!
Grab a few friends, and off you go. You’re gonna have a thrilling great time!

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

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

Yes, creative.

“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.
  • Our son is 14 years old which means I can’t travel in the low season. Just like you.

What do I do?

I book ahead. Far ahead!

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

I know. I know. I forgot it was going to be boiling. Don’t judge me!

Anyway, I took out a map, planned the places that we wanted to go and started doing research and contacting hostels, hotels, villas and castles. Yes, castles. And the most we paid for our 300-year-old-5-star-hotel-in-Pisa-on-the-river was €52.00 per day. For 2 rooms, en-suite including breakfast! For the 3 of us LOL!

We started planning in 2011.

Ouch! I'm still smiling. I'm still smiling! Even though there's a monkey on my head in Bali! Photo @Frank Böster
Ouch! I’m still smiling. I’m still smiling! Even though there’s a monkey on my head in Bali!
Photo @Frank Böster

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

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

We started planning it in 2014.

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

Again, planning started in 2015, and all were in consideration of the school holidays!

The outcome of Brexit was crazy, but it shouldn't stop you travelling! @Visit England - Rich J Jones
The outcome of Brexit was crazy, but it shouldn’t stop you travelling!
@Visit England – Rich J Jones
  • If you live in Europe, you get a minimum of 24 holidays per year and between 11-15 public holidays on top of that. That makes 35 days. Many get more! If you start your holidays on Friday evening or Saturday morning, you’ve got the weekends too. When I went to India, I went for 4 weeks but on paper, I actually went for 17 working days or 2.5 weeks!

And how did I do this?

Over Easter and May Day weekend. And depending on the year, if the public holiday is in the middle of the week (like Xmas 2015) you can just take the Monday and Tuesday off and you’ve got the weekend on both sides anyway. That makes 9 days off but 2 official holidays.

Boom!!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” skiing at Rokytnice nad Jizerou – the Czech Republic!

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

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

By train, the sky is the European limit. As for coaches or buses, we travelled all the way from Finland for all of €50, and we didn’t die!

In short, distance isn’t an issue.

You can fly, take the car, train, bus, sail, or even cycle! Europe is great for the bicycle. If cash is short, camping is available all over Europe, as well as bunkhouses, hostels and couchsurfing for absolutely free!

if you’re nervous about couchsurfing, you can book your hotel here!

My family & I in Thailand - All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.
My family & I in Thailand – All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.
  • We’re comfortable. We’re middle-class. Just like you.

What do I do?

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

It took us 2 years to save for our Asia trip, and so our budget in Asia was €100 per day. We spent about €850 for a flight from Berlin-Bangkok-Bali-Berlin each. We spent about €150.00 flying around in Asia itself each rather than taking the rickety all night train, and we spent between €18 per person for a lovely wooden chalet in Thailand and €70 per night for a complete house in Bali! We were there for a month.

  • Book ahead.

Far ahead!

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

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

Book your hotel here!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” with the Pearly King in London.

If you’ve got the cash. Go for it. Plenty of wonderful places in which you’ll be treated like royalty!

  • We keep our eyes open and go on various mailing lists. Just like you.
20 years of EasyJet flying!
20 years of EasyJet flying!

So go ahead and register with airlines and transport corporations that you like, and as many as you like.

Register with hotel and hostel brands that you like. They always have special deals and discount offers for their members. I once flew to Krakow with EasyJet for free! And why? Because I was on their mailing list and it was a new destination.

If you’re travelling miles apart, book ahead and take a plane.

It’s generally not worth travel hacking within Europe as flights are so cheap, and destinations are short.

If money is an issue, there are plenty of no-frills, low budgets airlines available to you such as EasyJet and the like. If you book ahead, fares can be as little as €4.99, sometimes less!

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

You can also go by boat and sail away onto the sea which is exactly what we did when we went to Finland!

In many cases, trains are cheaper than planes if you book ahead, and certainly in Germany, children under 15 years old are completely and utterly free! We travelled to Budapest from Berlin which was a thirteen (13) hour train journey and it only cost €69.00 for myself and my boy. First class!

For train travel all around the world check out the website of The Man in Seat Sixty-One . . . or Deutsche Bahn.

Keira Knightley on the passenger train in Poland!
Keira Knightley on the passenger train in Poland!

But remember, if you’re using the Deutsche Bahn website, change the location to Germany and use the English word for Deutschland which is Germany! NOT the UK/Ireland one! And then change the language to English!

  • Be creative with flexibility! We have school and jobs. Just like you.
Just because you have a fixed job, doesn't mean that you can't look for an adventure!
Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t look for an adventure!

Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible. If you’re looking for an adventure. Use skycanner and go for “anywhere” within your budget and then go on the airline’s own website.

It pays to be a little flexible if you can. You don’t have to limit yourself. You don’t even have to make up your mind. Use your home-base as a starting point and then go for “anywhere” and just keep trying out different destinations until you’re happy with it, or the location is within your budget.

Go to Eastern Europe instead of Western Europe.

Go to South America instead of North America.

Go to Wales instead of England.

Or not.

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

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

If you live in North America, I know that it’s more complicated. However, if you’ve worked hard, don’t feel guilty. TAKE your holidays and USE them for your own pleasure. Don’t paint the porch. The porch can wait.

Go to that place that you’ve always wanted to go to. Do the road trip. Fly to Argentina.

If you feel more comfortable staying in North America, then stay in North America. North America is an amazing destination and so beautiful. I’m not here to guilt trip you. It’s your holiday.

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

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

Book your hotel here!

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

Ask for discounts. Ask for a bigger room. Ask for an included breakfast. Ask for WiFi. Ask for an extra bed. Ask for free parking. Ask about children prices, student prices, “elderly” prices, corporate prices, even regional or local prices. If you’re from “there” let them know. You never know. If you don’t ask, they can’t help you, or reduce the prices.

Ask, and ask again.

Being a British European means being widely travelled.
Being a British European means being widely travelled.

As far as international relations is concerned, last year was a disaster so I’m taking part in bringing the world together as part of a Pledge to Travel campaign.

I’m going to #ExploreMore2017. You should too.

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

I'm a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin - © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I’m a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin –
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…..Where am I going in 2017?

Drum roll pleeeeease!

Travel plans this year are:

Romania
Romania
  • Romania
  • The Czech Republic
Croatia
Croatia
  • Croatia
  • France
Lake Bled in Slovenia
Lake Bled in Slovenia
  • Slovenia
  • Holland
Sweden
Sweden
  • Sweden
  • England
Russia
Russia
  • Russia
  • Poland
The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland. Again! Ho! For the the luck of the lovely Irish!
The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland. Again!
Ho! For the luck of the lovely Irish!
  • Ireland for TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference)
  • Austria
Austria
Austria
  • And of course, Germany! Ho! Ho! Ho!
Beer for everyone in Germany 'cos the drinks are on meeeee!
Beer for everyone in Germany ‘cos the drinks are on meeeee!

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure. I live in Germany which many consider to be an expensive Western nation.

I can afford a life of travel and a comfortable Berlin lifestyle.

I choose to have it all.

HOW I CAN AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL. DON’T CHOOSE. HAVE IT ALL! BUT YOU HAVE TO TAKE ACTION TO GET IT!!

I pledge to travel and to share others how to do so too! #ExploreMore2017
I pledge to travel and to share others how to do so too!
#ExploreMore2017

This article is not sponsored, and the thrilling countries that I’m going to visit in 2017, are my very own!

It’s January. Well, hello there!

I’ll be making an announcement this month that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!

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

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017.  Save the Date!

At the beginning of  January, I’ll be going to Holland, and at the end of it, I’ll be skiing in my favourite place, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, in the Czech Republic!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, you’re missing out!

January is going to be spectacular!

Watch this space!

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

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

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

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don't choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!
How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!

Do you have any travel plans for 2017? Join me and let me know where you’re going to #ExploreMore2017!

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!

How I went to 10 unbelievable countries, went into a media frenzy over Brexit, and lived to tell the tale in 2016. If you want the sky, you’ve got to reach for it!

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

Happy New Year everyone.

It’s officially 2017!!!!!

My goodness!

2016 was a mixed bag of an incredible year, but that hasn’t stopped me from making plans to conquer the world. I’ll give you all the details next week!!

But first, let’s take a walk down memory lane of all the countries that I went to last year, and what I did. According to my statistics, 76,000 people read my blog last year. 76,000 people!! To think I only started this blog a little over three (3) years ago. Isn’t that marvellous?

Thank you all so much!
Thank you all so much!

Thank you so much for reading, making comment, and sticking with me. I love you all!

So let’s start with the country of my birth (England), and end with my new home-country (Germany). Here we go. Choose your poison….!

THE 10 COUNTRIES THAT I WENT TO LAST YEAR WERE:

  • England
  • Denmark
  • Luxembourg
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Slovakia
  • Philippines
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Germany

BRITAIN:

The outcome of Brexit was crazy! @Visit England - Rich J Jones
The outcome of Brexit was crazy!
@Visit England – Rich J Jones

The Queen was 90 year last year, and in a world of constant change and in a state of fear, I’m awfully glad that Queen Elizabeth II is still on the throne, ‘cos we need her!

And OMG! The outcome of Brexit was crazy! Sadly, we British Europeans, and others like us who voted for #Remain, lost out. Having said that, you should have seen how many newspaper and radio interviews I did at that time, as well as TV appearances. One newspaper even hounded me for an interview at midnight!

I refused!

Afternoon Tea with the Queen!
Afternoon Tea with the Queen!

Here are the posts that I wrote about being British, and what it means.

ENGLAND:

Lambs being born in Cheshire!
Lambs being born in Cheshire!

The outcome of Brexit was awful. And I’m very, very sad, but I’m still British, and I love my original home-country that is England – the land of Hope and Glory n’ all that! In fact, last year I went back for my Masters graduation convention ceremony, which was full of pomp and tradition, but made me feel very much back to my roots, and proud of not only myself, but of my country too.

Whatever happens. I’ll still always be English.

Here’s what I wrote:

I'm an MA graduate from the University of Chester. Whoopee!
I’m an MA graduate from the University of Chester.
Whoopee!

DENMARK:

Top 9 reasons why Danish food isn't just smørrebrød, seasonal berries & herbs, but can be awfully tasty! © Visit Denmark
Top 9 reasons why Danish food isn’t just smørrebrød, but can be awfully tasty!
© Visit Denmark

I hadn’t been to Denmark for years, so it was great to get back there. It wasn’t cheap though, so if you want to visit any Nordic country without selling your mother, here’s what you should do!

LUXEMBOURG:

Part of the Luxembourg summer spirit! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Part of the Luxembourg summer spirit!

Over the summer, I decided to take The Tall Young Gentleman on a Summer European Challenge which consisted of spending the summer going to a different European country! Our boy is 14 years old going on 20, so it was just lovely spending quality time with him, before he grows up, and it’s too late!

Thankfully, he’s as great a traveller as I am, but a bit of a snob. You should have seen him whinge over taking the second class night train…!

Having said that, by the time our son was 5, he had already been to 32 countries, and at 12, he was already talking about spending his GAP year in Thailand, so there’s that!

Anyway, here it goes:

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

PORTUGAL:

Lisbon is pretty small so that everywhere is walkable. You can travel around the city by bus, train, funicular or tram. You can also hang on while the tram is moving, but don't do that at home kids!
Lisbon is pretty small so everywhere is walkable. You can travel around by bus, train, funicular or tram.

Our family holiday this year was to the Mediterranean. And we had a most wonderful time in Lisbon, the Algarves, and Porto in Portugal.

I can’t understand why most travellers and tourists don’t seem to go there, as it’s small, historical, not too expensive, the people are lovely, and it’s really rather pleasant to visit. Perhaps, they’re trying to keep it a secret.

Whoops!

Here’s why we went, and you should too!

Sailing on the Douro River in Porto!
Sailing on the Douro River in Porto!

SPAIN:

Paella is Spain's national dish and traditional enough to be a symbol of Spanish streetfood too!
Paella is Spain’s national dish and traditional enough to be a symbol of Spanish streetfood too!

Our family holiday this year was to the Mediterranean. And not only did we spend it in Portugal, but in Spain too!

Even though I had a most stressful visit to Barcelona in 2015, Madrid & Seville in 2016, turned it all around!

Here’s how Spain changed my opinion:

Spanish tapas galore!
Spanish tapas galore!

SLOVAKIA:

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

Once upon a time, I used to live in the Czech Republic, and for a very short time in Slovakia too. Over the summer, we took a trip down memory lane, and Slovakia was OK, but ultimately, I wasn’t impressed, because of the scamming that took place in our restaurant!

The Tall Young Gentleman wasn’t impressed either. He found Bratislava drab!

Srop scamming us in Slovakia!
Srop scamming us in Slovakia!

Read on though, and make up your own mind:

THE PHILIIPPINES:

Me in the Philippines, but could this be a James Bond moment! ©Scott Herder - BoboandChiChi.com
Me in the Philippines, but could this be a James Bond moment!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

I was very excited to be back in Asia, not only ‘cos outside of Europe, Asia is my favourite continent, but because I was going to not one new Asian destinations, but two! And, I was at a travel bloggers conference called TBEX, and on a press trip around the lovely beaches of the Philippines too!

I haven’t actually written about any of the beaches yet, but I shared many of the “on-the-spot” activities and photographs on Facebook and Twitter, so if you’re not following me there, you should!

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?
Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

SWITZERLAND:

How to spend 48 astonishing hours in Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern - On a budget!
How to spend 48 astonishing hours in Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern – On a budget!

Switzerland was one of the countries that I decided to travel to over the summer. Even though it’s not far from Germany, I hadn’t actually been before!

And my verdict?

A lovely, lovely country!

Read on:

There is plenty to do in Lucerne so "The Tall Young Gentleman" & I made our own independent walking tour instead! Seen slightly before walking on the medieval Chapel Bridge, Water Tower, and Spreuer Bridge in Lucerne!
There is plenty to do in Lucerne so “The Tall Young Gentleman” & I made our own independent walking tour instead!

TAIWAN:

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

As part of my visit to Asia last year, I opted to choose a Chinese-inspired country. And as much as I absolutely loooove Hong Kong, I chose a new destination.

I chose Taiwan.

In fact, I liked it so much that on our next family holiday to Asia, Taiwan would be one country that I would happily choose again. My German husband would adore it!

Exotic vegetables for the hotpot inTaiwan!
Exotic vegetables for the hotpot inTaiwan!

GERMANY:

Take me to the Baltic Sea in Geeeeermany! 51 reasons to go to the seaside. In Germany! ©Usedom Tourismus GmbH
Take me to the Baltic Sea in Geeeeermany!
©Usedom Tourismus GmbH

I spend a lot of my time travelling abroad, but last year, I wanted to make a huge effort travelling more around Germany. And I did!

Most of the destinations centered around the sea, and sailing, and for those of you who hadn’t thought of the seaside and Germany in one breath, well. It’s different, but really quite nice!

This year, I visited  Usedom, I went sailing with the grandparents near Bremen, I went to my husband’s hometown of Osnabrück, and of course, I spent some time in my beloved Berlin.

Try if for yourself:

BERLIN CULTURE:

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2017 ©Lupi Spuma Fine Photography
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2017
©Lupi Spuma Fine Photography

BERLIN:

Oh yeaaaah! Berlin baby! I’ve been living here as an expat for 15 years. I know Berlin that’s why I am The British Berliner! So without further delay, here are the lovely posts that I wrote just for you:

OTHER PARTS OF GERMANY:

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

GERMAN CULTURE:

Beer for everyone in Germany 'cos the drinks are on meeeee!
Beer for everyone in Germany ‘cos the drinks are on meeeee!

OTHER STUFF!

The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun.
The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun.

But 2016 was an interesting year, and even though in some parts it went terribly bad with politics and terrorism, in other ways it was great.

My own brother wrote a book which was taken up by a publisher in London, and I completed my MA (Education Management) at the University of Chester which had me flying in and out of the UK every 6 weeks!

I did a lot of media appearances not only about Brexit, but about the British monarchy too. I was recently invited to an exclusive Christmas celebration at the German parliament, with members of the House of Lords, the European Parliament, and the British Embassy!

My husband – The Music Producer – worked on two EP’s, mixed songs for several artists, and produced the music sound track of an independent short film, which is now applying for competition at international film festivals around the world!

My husband - The Music Producer
My husband – The Music Producer

I started a new job as the Vice School Principal of a Language School which might also lead to one of the biggest projects of my life. I can’t talk about it at the moment, but as I said last week, if it works out, it’s going to be huge. And if it doesn’t, well…!

No need to worry. I'll do the talking! © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
No need to worry. I’ll do the talking!
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

The work of a lifestyle, expat, travel blogger is never done, so I’ll leave with you with some of my most inspiring motivational posts!

If you’ve noticed, you can now use the translation tab at the top of the page, to change my posts to the language of your choice. You can also check out some of the places where my writing and media appearances can be found, on this page here!

Heart-shaped Coeur d'Arras cheese in Nord-Pas de Calais.

In short, I had a blast in 2016, and there’s many more exciting things about to start for me in 2017!

I have a family and I have a life. Most importantly, I’ve already found my home-base – Berlin – and I’m extremely happy with where I am and who I am.

52 fantastic posts!

Thank you so much for your support everyone. 2016 was a great year. Here’s to the next.

Bottoms up!

I'm not really a beach person as I prefer mountains and rivers or beach destinations that have more than the sea to recommend them! Me at the Grotto in the Algarve!
I’m not really a beach person as I prefer mountains or beach destinations that have more than the sea to recommend them!

I have so much to say, so next week I will be sharing some of my travel destinations for 2017 with you.

It”s a New Year. Hip! Hip! Hurrah!

HOW I WENT TO 10 UNBELIEVABLE COUNTRIES, WENT INTO A MEDIA FRENZY OVER BREXIT, AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE IN 2016. IF YOU WANT THE SKY YOU’VE GOT TO REACH FOR FOR IT!

 If you want the sky, you've got to reach for it!
If you want the sky, you’ve got to reach for it!

This article is not sponsored, and the exhilarating countries that I visited in 2016, were all my very own!

In January I’ll be making an announcement that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!

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

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017.  Save the Date!

At the beginning of  January, I’ll be going to Holland, and at the end of it, I’ll be skiing in my favourite place, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, in the Czech Republic!

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

January is going to be splendid!

Watch this space!

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

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

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

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How I went to 10 unbelievable countries, went into a media frenzy over Brexit, and lived to tell the tale in 2016. If you want the sky, you've got to reach for it!
How I went to 10 unbelievable countries, went into a media frenzy over Brexit, and lived to tell the tale in 2016. If you want the sky, you’ve got to reach for it!

Where did you travel to last year? Are there any particular posts that you enjoyed? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

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

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