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

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

So you’re probably either thinking, at last!

Or, what the darn diddly?

I cannot under-estimate how much I love living in Germany.

BMW Munich – Summer in Germany – Simply the Best!

I mean, I shout about it loud enough and it was just four (4) years ago that I introduced myself to you on this blog, when I wrote a cheeky article which most people didn’t seem to get. And the title? Germany is Boring.

Oops!

Ah well, either way, it’s going to be interesting.

At the Berlin Music Video Awards with Roc Roc It – 2015
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

As The British Berliner, I have been living in Germany for more than fifteen (15) years, so I’m more than qualified to tell you how things are done the German Way! 

I mean, what is the big deal?

The Berlin Wall – 28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

I’ll tell you what the big deal is my good man.

It’s the fact that Germany.

Otherwise known as Deutschland!

Has been together in peace and harmony for 28 years.

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

That’s right.

28 years!

How I went on the radio for the BBC & was featured in Germany’s biggest Sunday newspaper!

Some people might think that by coming to Berlin or Munich for a lost weekend, they know everything they need to know about the German people.

Not so my friends.

It’s a little more complicated than that, so I’m going to help you!

HOW TO BE A GERMAN – 10 WAYS TO DO IT!

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

Just so that you know what mean, here’s a 2004 MTV commercial called Günther, otherwise known as Mum, Dad, I’m German…

It’s totally ridiculous but absolutely hilarious, and very tongue-in-cheek. Watch the video below!

1.  LOOK THE PART AND WEAR SANDALS AND CLOGS. INDOORS!

How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!
Man wearing sandals & socks. But why?! ©Rex

When I first came to Germany, I was amazed at the number of men who wore sandals.

With socks!

Why people? Why?

Keeping it real in Germany. With sandals and socks!
©REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

The last time I wore leather sandals was when I was a school girl, and they were a sensible pair of Clarks!

However, in order to be as German as the next person, I wear Birkenstocks at home. With socks!

I even wore Birkenstocks at my wedding!

How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!
I even wore Birkenstocks at my wedding!

But without socks!

And in my defence, I had been wearing killer high heels all day which I had changed three (3) times!

I know!

2.  HAVE LUNCH FOR BREAKFAST!

German and French bread!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Germans aren’t known for the minimal look as far as food is concerned. They’re not French you know!

During the week, a typical German breakfast is a bun known as a brötchen. It’s usually covered with cold cuts and cheese with mustard, and a variety of other sauces.

At the weekend, it’s a feast!

At the weekend, it’s a feast, fit for a king!
How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

Many German families, including my own, would queue for hours in order to get the freshest amount of bread straight from the bakery. And yes, many people still go to the bakery!

In fact, just five (5) minutes from my home is the family-owned and oldest bakery in Berlin – Bäckerei Siebert – and is still going strong after 111 years!

A most delicious breakfast spread you can expect, in a typical German home!

Then they arrange their tables so that there’s a wide variety of cold cuts, sausages, cheese, seafood, eggs, fruit, and a wide assortment of bread!

The first time, I had breakfast with my German family, it was such a mish-mash of food that halfway through the meal, I left the table and was sick in the bathroom! It was too much you see, so get ready to gird your loins, as there’s no escaping!

3.  SAUSAGES!

White sausages. I’ve tried it every which way, but I still don’t like it!
©TakeAway – Wikipedia

All hail the almighty S!

The very highlight of a typical German day is the sausage, so if you want to be a German, learn how to like it!

Germany has loads of different sausages and each comes with its own unique taste.

I find the white sausage with sweet mustard or Weißwürst quite disgusting personally, even though I’ve tried it every which way.

Ah well!

Delicious grilled pork sausages, otherwise known as bratwurst. Yum!

The grilled pork sausages with mustard, ketchup or both, otherwise known as Bratwurst can be decisively delicious.

My favourite German sausage however, is the currywurst. The currywurst is Berlin’s most famous sausage.

Best German meals to try out in Berlin – Currywurst!

Currywurst!

Yummy! Yummy!

Currywurst is beef or pork sausage grilled and chopped up, then smothered with a spicy ketchup and curry powder. It’s eaten with a pile of chips and a slice of bread or a bun.

It’s such a famous icon that it even has its own Currywurst Museum where you can learn how currywurst is made, smell it, watch a film about it, attempt to sell it, and play around with the french fries and chips. You can sometimes even have chocolate and curry ice-cream!

If you’re vegan or a vegetarian however, you’re done for!

4.  RECYCLING!

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

I’m happy to say that Germany is the leading country as far as going green is concerned, and they’ve been doing it for years!

I remember when I first came to Germany, and I casually put a piece of paper into the dustbin, my German boyfriend at the time, literally freaked out.

It was the wrong dustbin!

Germans have a dustbin for everything.

Germans have a dustbin for everything!
How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

There’s a dustbin for paper.

A dustbin for plastic.

A dustbin for glass.

A dustbin for metal.

A dustbin for organic stuff.

A dustbin for dog poo.

A charity bin for clothes with a different compartment for shoes. Of course.

There’s even a dustbin for batteries!

If you want to be a German, don’t do this!
How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

And every supermarket will encourage you to leave your cardboards boxes and plastic packaging behind, if you so wish.

Oh, and most people have recycling bags that they take with them for shopping.

And don’t think you can sneak your large items into the backyard, as the dustbin men won’t take them, and you’ll be charge for “littering!”

We even have our own organic compost “bin” in the garden!

If you want to be a German keep your rubbish, and take it home!
How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

If you want to be a German keep your rubbish, and take it home!

5.  PUNCTUALITY!

If you want to be a German, don’t be late!
How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

If you want to be a German, if your appointment is at 09:00, make sure you arrive there on the dot, or better still, a few minutes before. However, if you arrive twenty (20) seconds later, you’re late!

Mind you, don’t be like the strange fellow that I invited to a Christmas dinner party I was organising. He arrived at 17:00, and the invitation was for 20:00!

I sent him away!

6.  SMALL TALK ISN’T A THING!

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

I live in Germany.

I have quite a knack for small talk.

Most Germans haven’t.

They don’t seems to understand what I mean by “small” talk. They think we British people are trying to evade the subject.

Don’t be shy. Speak plainly if you like her hair!
How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

Germans believe in speaking plainly and clearly, about what is on their minds!

I once had some random stranger who stopped me on the street, and told me that he didn’t like my hair style!

See.  Plain and true. No beating around the bush here!

Oh, and talking about the private issue of how much you earn, could get you fired!

If you want to be a German, forget about it.

Let it go!

It’s against the law!

7.  LONG CONVERSATIONS!

If you want to be a German, ask more questions! How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

If you want to be a German, learn the art of a long conversation and long meetings. There’s no need to say something in one (1) minute, that could better be said in ten (10)!

What’s the hurry?

Slow down.

Don’t make your mind up too quickly.

Sleep on it.

Discuss it a bit more over lunch, and a few pints of beer.

Then let’s talk about it again next week!

8.  DOCUMENTATION!

Bring along all your documentation!
How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

For the laymen among you, that means paperwork and certification!

If you want to settle into German life, and you don’t have any certificates, you won’t get very far. After all, how would they know that you’ve “done it,” if they can’t record it, and file it away somewhere!

Germany is a high-technology country, but as far as paperwork and bureaucracy is concerned, it might as well be back in the Dark Ages!

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

So bring along document A, as well as three copies of document B, signed by the Head of Department, who gave you document C, then send them all by post with a verified stamp, and document D!

And don’t smile!

9.  OKTOBERFEST AND DRINKING BEER!

Beer in Germany isn’t a joke.
How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

Ha! If there’s one other thing that Germans do well, it’s drink beer!

Beer in Germany isn’t a joke.

And neither is Oktoberfest!

Are Bavarians really Germans? How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

Some people would have you believe that Oktoberfest is only known in Bavaria.

And that the Bavarians aren’t really Germans!

But it isn’t true.

And I should know ‘cos I’m more German than the Germans. So there!

And for goodness sake. Whatever you do, please don’t order water at the bar.

It’s weird!

10.  BE INFORMED ABOUT GERMAN HISTORY!

Learning how to be a German is lots of fun, but if you want to be a real German, you’ll have to know and understand your history.

All of the history. Including the horrible bits.

That’s it for now.

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

See you next week!

HOW TO BE A GERMAN – 10 WAYS TO DO IT!

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

This article isn’t sponsored, and absolutely all opinions are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

In the Autumn, I’ll be visiting the UK and travelling around the areas of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Blackpool, Derbyshire and Yorkshire!

Yay!

October & November is going to be thrilling!

How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!
Claudia Schiffer – Paris 1989 – ©2017 Herb Ritts Foundation.

Watch this space!

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A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

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

Are you German? Do you have any German roots? Would you like to be a German? Let me know in the comments below!

 See you in Berlin.

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

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10 Christmas gifts that don’t cost a single thing, and 10 gifts that do!!

10 Christmas gifts that don't cost a single thing, and 10 gifts that do!!
10 Christmas gifts that don’t cost a single thing, and 10 gifts that do!!

I do so love winter!

It’s that time of year.

Christmas!

I love the crispness of the air, the early evenings, the freshness of the cold, and the darkness  when the lights come out.

I love it so, because December is my most favourite month ever, and also the month of my birth!

It was my birthday a few days ago.

Yay!

img_2803-2

Just look at my delightful yummy birthday cake. It’s cherries and cream, but it sure does look like cherry tomatoes.

But that would be weird…!

The horror of Christmas shopping!
The horror of Christmas shopping!

And even if you’re not into the horror of Christmas shopping, you are still liable to the festive season.

At least in Europe you are!

However of late, Christmas has been high-jacked by activities contrary to what this season is all about. Everywhere you look there’s some disaster or another, and then in a few weeks, merriment galore, then huge bills!

Yikes!

So let’s make a deal. Instead of wasting a huge amount of money on things you either don’t need, or probably already have, making the issue of #firstworldproblems completely and utterly true. Let’s figure out a way to make Christmas time as pain-free as possible.

So come with me as I feature 10 Christmas gifts that don’t cost a single thing if you’re broke, and don’t have a penny to your name. And 10 gifts that do, for those who have the dosh, and really want to spend it!

Here we go!

10 CHRISTMAS GIFTS THAT DON’T COST A SINGLE THING, AND 10 GIFTS THAT DO!!

  • MAKE A PERSONALISED MIXED TAPE
A personalised mixed tape doesn't cost a single thing!
A personalised mixed tape doesn’t cost a single thing!

IT DOESN’T COST A SINGLE THING!

Ha! Ha! Not a real tape. I mean tape!? Tape?!&%!!

When was the last time that you actually saw a good ‘ol cassette player?

Like never!

Nevertheless, the sentiment remains the same. Why not make a customised mixed playlist from your huge collection on iTunes or Spotify, and make a CD! You can even sing on it….!

IT DOES! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

It does. It's Christmas!!
It does. It’s Christmas!!

On the other hand, if you don’t want to embarrass yourself or your family, perhaps getting an actual musical CD is the way to go!

I recommend the highly successful soulful talented Scottish singer/songwriter – Emeli Sandé. Get your hipster friends Emeli Sandé: Long Live The Angels. If you can find it…! If you’re in Britain buy it via Amazon UK. If you’re in the US buy this CD via Amazon.com. If you’re in Germany, buy this CD via Amazon.de.

  •  MAKE A PHOTOGRAPHY ALBUM
Photographs don't cost a single thing!
Photographs don’t cost a single thing!

IT DOESN’T COST A SINGLE THING!

In todays’ world, pretty much everyone and his mother has a mobile phone. In many cases a smart phone too. It doesn’t take a genius to take a photograph or two of yourself, your friends, and family, or even your hobby using stuff like postcards, ticket stubs, old T-shirts, money, etc, making your photography more than just a bunch of photos, but a scrapbook of your life. And theirs!

Then all you have to do is upload the photographs, edit as appropriate, then send off to your loved ones by Email.

IT DOES! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

fujifilm-instax-mini-8
It does. It’s Christmas!!

Buy your loved ones a fun retro camera via Amazon UK. If you’re in the US, buy this camera via Amazon.com. If you’re in Germany, buy this camera via Amazon.de.

  • MAKE YOUR OWN COOKBOOK
I'm a terrible cook, but I do like writing about food! How to eat cheaply in Luxembourg!
I’m a terrible cook, but I do like writing about food!
How to eat cheaply in Luxembourg!

IT DOESN’T COST A SINGLE THING!

I’m not the best of cooks. In fact, although I love eating wonderful food and I have a whole bookshelf of cookery books. I CAN’T COOK! But if you can, why not make your very own cook and recipe book for your friends and family. Add personalised notes and extra information about why you chose that particular recipe, ‘cos who doesn’t like something delicious. Or even the secret to making a good cup of tea!

IT DOES! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

It does. It’s Christmas!!

If you fear that you might kill people, leave it to the experts and buy your loved ones a cookery book so that they can make it like mummy used to, properly! Why not try one of the best food books of 2016 – Salt is Essential by Shaun Hill. And if you’re really quick, you can have an extra book – Rib Ticklers & Choux-Ins: 110 sensational recipes, from steaks & bakes to cheesecakes by Glynn Purnell, bundled in at no extra cost too. But hurry, there’s only nine (9) left!

If you’re in Britain buy them via Amazon UK. If you’re in the US buy these books via Amazon.com here and here. If you’re in Germany, buy these books via Amazon.de.

  • GO ON A WALKING TOUR
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!

IT DOESN’T COST A SINGLE THING!

You’re broke and you can’t afford to travel the world. Not to worry. Let the world travel to you! Join a walking tour in a major city near you. Completely and utterly free (except for the tips of course. We said save money, not steal it!).

IT DOES! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

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

On the other hand, you’ve got holiday time due to you, or you want to surprise a loved one, then don’t be shy take the next train, or flight, and book a hotel to anywhere in the world. Go on. You deserve it!

If you’re in Britain, book a hotel room via Booking.com. If you’re in the US, book a hotel room via Booking.com. If you’re in Germany, book a hotel room via Booking.com auf Deutsch.

  • MAKE JAM or CHUTNEY
Plum jam doesn't cost a single thing!
Plum jam doesn’t cost a single thing!

IT DOESN’T COST A SINGLE THING!

We all eat far too much! Using the fruit and vegetables from your garden, your terrace, or even your window sill, can give you jams and chutney galore. Instead of throwing out your excess fruit, make jam and give them to your friends and family.

We have a plum-tree, a blackberry tree, and hundreds of tomatoes. Fresh produce doesn’t do itself justice, bearing in mind that there are no added chemicals. In fact, no added anything! Just put in a little sunshine, a bit of water, some basic pruning from time-to-time, a couple of old teabags, and you’ve got yourself a vegetable patch, and freshness to last you through the winter!

IT DOES! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

It does. It's Christmas!!
It does. It’s Christmas!!

If you’re as bad a cook as I am, get yourself a cookery book and learn how to to find fruit and vegetables all around us. Buy your loved ones a book that has never been out of print called appropriately: Food for Free by Richard Mabey! If you’re in Britain buy it via Amazon UK. If you’re in the US buy this book via Amazon.com. If you’re in Germany, buy this book via Amazon.de.

MAKE A HOME-MADE MOVIE

A home-made film doesn't cost a single thing!
A home-made film doesn’t cost a single thing!

IT DOESN’T COST A SINGLE THING!

If you have a smart phone, a camera, or a selfie stick, you can start making your very own-home movie, starring YOU. Produced by you, and directed and scripted, completely and utterly by you. Boy, but what a thrill!

I’m not going to show you any of my own home-movies. I’m not mad you know! But if you want to see some of my professional ones, click here!

IT DOES! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

It does. It's Christmas!!
It does. It’s Christmas!!

If you’re serious about movies and films, and want to take making a movie to the next level, why not go to film festivals for inspiration, then enrol at a film school nearby. I’m constantly being asked to make some sort of film production, made and produced by myself.

Er. Nope!

I love watching films. I love being in films, but I’m not skilled enough to actually make the film! And nor do I want to. I love being in front of the camera, rather than behind it!

I was even asked by the BBC to take part in an creative art make your own digital film project, but I turned it down. The BBC. I know!! Having said that, I love learning stuff which is why I’m always at one workshop or another, and there’s nothing wrong with adding to the skills that one already has. So I might book one of the MET practical filmmaking world renowned weekend courses after all. And certainly, if you’re serious about this stuff, you should do the same, or get one of your grannies to pay for it!

  • READ A BOOK
Reading a book doesn't cost a single thing!
Reading a book doesn’t cost a single thing!

IT DOESN’T COST A SINGLE THING!

If you’re clever, getting a book for free is as easy as getting a slice of bread, all you had to do is search for a classic book online, or go to your local library, and the book is yours. Certainly the Berlin Central and Regional Library (ZLB), yearly library membership cost between just €5.00 – €10.00 a year and include being able to borrow DVDs, Videos, Music CDs, Booklets, Audio books, Art related items, and up to 60 books at a time! On top of that, you have access to every other public library in the city. All pretty much free of charge.

Gosh!

IT DOES! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

It does. It's Christmas!!
It does. It’s Christmas!!

Why waste time. Buy your loved ones a kindle, and they can have a book for life!

Kindles are on special offer right now and they’re much cheaper than an iPad! I have Kindle on my iPad, and my phone, and a few years ago we bought “The Tall Young Gentleman” a Kindle Fire Tablet, and he’s still using it! For children, teenagers and millennials, Kindle Fire is your man!

If you’re in Britain, buy Kindle Fire via Amazon.uk. If you’re in the US, buy Kindle Fire via Amazon.com. If you’re in Germany, buy Kindle Fire via Amazon. de.

If you’re a dedicated reader, then a Kindle Paperwhite is more useful! If you’re in Britain, buy Kindle Paperwhite via Amazon.uk. If you’re in the US, buy Kindle Paperwhite via Amazon.com. If you’re in Germany, buy Kindle Paperwhite via Amazon. de.

Whatever. Buy a kindle!

ps. Fire Kindle does Snapchat too, if you download Google play store…

  • CHARITABLE GIFTS THAT YOU CAN SEE!
Donating an old toy, doesn't cost a single thing!
Donating an old toy, doesn’t cost a single thing!

IT DOESN’T COST A SINGLE THING!

I personally like to donate clothes, books and toys. I’ve also donated my time by teaching for free, or offering some other service. At one point, I was a Charitable Director of a Woman’s Shelter in London, and a civilian sergeant in the Engineering Unit of the Territorial Army!

IT DOES! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

It does. It's Christmas!!
It does. It’s Christmas!!

Most people by their very nature are charitable and want to help others, but sometimes there’s a nagging feeling if you’re really doing what you can? Is your money going to the people who need it most, or some administrative office in Switzerland?

Some organizations offer more tangible ways to do this. I’ve donated to UNESCO for children and natural disasters. I’ve also given money to start-up organisations in Berlin, as I like to support up and coming talent in various ways!

I was first introduced to a company called Kiva.org via my previous company who made a donation of $25 on my behalf, promising to double whatever I donated myself.  It’s a non-profit organisation that allows people to lend money via the internet to low-income entrepreneurs “to alleviate poverty.”

It does. It's Christmas!!
It does. It’s Christmas!!

I donated another $25 and got to choose who I would give this loan to. I chose the owner of a small corner shop in South America. She paid me $2.00 every month and paid back the loan. But not to worry, I didn’t take the money. It’s put into your account where you can loan it out again!

Well-known charities like Oxfam, allow you to donate a specific animal – a goat or llama – or other basic items needed by the village.  You can also “adopt” endangered animals through animal conservation organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

  • FAMILY HISTORY 
Researching your family history doesn't cost a single thing!
Researching your family history doesn’t cost a single thing!

IT DOESN’T COST A SINGLE THING!

Research your family history  and ask your grandparents about your ancestry, your roots, and your family history. You can also go to the local library, local burial grounds, church, place of worship, the town hall or failing that, get online and do some digging via  Ancestry.com! You’ll be surprised at what you find!

Via an old newspaper article, I found out that my dad was the first engineer of colour, in his Northern England unit! He’s in his 70’s now, so you can imagine what an achievement that was at the time!

IT DOES! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

It does. It's Christmas!!
It does. It’s Christmas!!

You can hire an expert historian who will do the digging for you and make your genealogical tree, or you can get your family tested for DNA. After all how do you think I know that I’m descended from royalty. I always tell people that I’m related to the other Queen Victoria. I’m not. It’s different royalty. But I might be!

Failing that why not go to Europe and find out. Many of you are descended from people in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia. Don’t you think it’s time you took a plane and found out!

  • WRITE YOUR OWN BOOK or START YOUR OWN BLOG
How to write & publish a book! I prefer paper or hard back!
How to write & publish a book!
I prefer paper or hard back!

IT DOESN’T COST A SINGLE THING!

Get yourself a glass of wine, grab some plain  white paper or your laptop, and get writing!

IT DOES! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

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

Buy the book of someone else. An ordinary person. Just like you.

Someone like my very own  brother, who wrote a children’s book called THE BEEHIVE, in just three (3) months!

If you’re in Britain buy it via Amazon UK. If you’re in the US buy this book via Amazon.com. If you’re in Germany, buy this book via Amazon.de.

Also, 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! If you really want to know how to set up a WordPress website in any language, let me know, and I’ll set up a post about it in January! Speaking of languages, have you seen my language tab at the top of the page? Now you can switch my post to any language you desire! Nifty!

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

So what are you waiting for, Xmas is just around the corner, get to work!

And good luck!

10 Christmas gifts that don't cost a single thing, and 10 gifts that do!!
10 Christmas gifts that don’t cost a single thing, and 10 gifts that do!!

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

In January, I’ll be going to Holland.

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

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

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

Save the Date!

December is going to be bouncing!

Watch this space!

Please also note that there are three affiliate link companies (for the very first time), connected to this Christmas gift time post! Every time one of those services are 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!

10 Christmas gifts that don't cost a single thing, and 10 gifts that do!!
10 Christmas gifts that don’t cost a single thing, and 10 gifts that do!!

Which of these gifts would you use?  Do you prefer to buy, or give away? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

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

Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

 

Colpach Castle in Luxembourg - ©Johnny Chicago Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Colpach Castle in Luxembourg – ©Johnny Chicago
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

So last week I wrote a sombre post about the earthquake in Italy.

But you know what?

Just because Italy had an earthquake doesn’t mean that Italy is over!

Quite the opposite!

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

We’re Europeans!

We don’t let little things like natural disasters or terrorist acts, keep us down.

We don’t give up on life.

Is it safe to travel to Europe right now 'cos I'm scared to travel abroad?
Is it safe to travel to Europe right now ‘cos I’m scared to travel abroad?

We get up. Dust ourselves down, and carry on!

One way to do this, is to help each other, and to keep an open mind.

How?

By travel.

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

Don’t just read the papers, or listen to hearsay.

Go see for yourself.

Europe is wonderful!

Is it any wonder that I decided to organise  Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign!

I mean, wouldn’t you?

Victoria's Summer European Challenge has begun! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Victoria’s Summer European Challenge has begun!

Oh, the summer!

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

Every weekend!

Every weekend, I’m going to be visiting a different European city! Yeeks!
Every weekend, I’m going to be visiting a different European city!
Yeeks!

For six (6) weeks!

And only to travel.

By train!

So let’s see how we’re doing.

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, seasonal berries & herbs, but can be awfully tasty!
© Visit Denmark

I started off with Denmark and hopped off to Copenhagen.

Is Copenhagen a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Well, I booked my train with Deutsche Bahn – German Rail – and received a paid ticket for my seat on a German train, and was sent to….

I got this bus instead!
I got this bus instead!

Er….a coach – bus.

Organised by Deutsche Bahn.

Which took us through Northern Germany, on a ferry across the Baltic Sea!

So, sort of a tick!

Er. Not spending money in Copenhagen Mr. Hans Christian Anderson. What's that now? Surely not! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Er. Not spending money in Copenhagen Mr. Hans Christian Anderson. What’s that now? Surely not!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

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

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

There is plenty to do in Lucerne so we made our own independent walking tour instead!
There is plenty to do in Lucerne so we made our own independent walking tour instead!

Is Lucerne a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Yep! Tick!

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

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

Tick!

So let’s go to the next destination.

The next country that I went to was Luxembourg.

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

LUXEMBOURG: A SMART GUIDE to the GRAND DUCHY of one of EUROPE’S SMALLEST COUNTRIES!

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

Luxembourg, otherwise known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a country in Western Europe.

It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south.

Its capital – Luxembourg City, together with Brussels and Strasbourg, is one of the three official capitals of the European Union, and the seat of the European Court of Justice, which is the highest judicial seat in the EU!

The culture, people, and languages of Luxembourg’s are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of German and French!

A mixture of German and French bread! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
A mixture of German and French bread!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

With an area of just 2,586 square kilometres or 998 square miles, it is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe, and about the same size as the state of Rhode Island in the US, or the county of Northamptonshire in England!

Luxembourg City has a population of just 110,49 people while Luxembourg – the country, has a population of 562,958, making it one of the tiniest countries in Europe.

If not the world!

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

It is a democracy with a constitutional monarch, headed by the Grand Duke of Luxembourg – HRH Grand Duke Henri – and is the only remaining grand duchy in the world!

Not only that, but Luxembourg is considered to have the world’s highest GDP per capita!

Fantastic!

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

Once again, my task?

To visit Luxembourg. Sleep in Luxembourg. Eat in Luxembourg. And survive the incredible prices. With young boy tween in tow.

Here we go.

Aaaargh!

TAKE ME THERE?

Taking the train to Luxembourg A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Taking the train to Luxembourg
A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Luxembourg is a really small country, near to everywhere!

We came in by train.

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

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

The snag is to book tickets with the national train companies, directly.
The snag is to book tickets with the national train companies, directly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

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

We went to Luxembourg in August.

Luxembourg isn’t your typical holiday destination, so it was hardly crowded at all!

WHAT IS LUXEMBOURG LIKE?

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

Due to the long train journey, we were there for merely 2 days, but I nevertheless, found Luxembourg intriguing!

Like Switzerland, Luxembourg is immensely clean, tidy, and orderly.

The Luxembourgers were friendly, relaxed, helpful, and full of smiles. We saw many people taking picnics in the park, or watching the various programmes and festivities in the public square, or around the palaces and historical buildings.

At one point, quite a few people were just snoozing or relaxing in deck chairs, outside an art gallery and museum. It was tempting to join them let me tell you!

Summer in the City! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Summer in the City!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Luxembourg has an annual summer programme called Summer in the City, which is organised by the Luxembourg City Tourist Office (LCTO). This programme offers a series of summer events which turn pavements and public squares into open-air stages of cultural festivities.

The festivities are mainly free of charge and consist of open-air concerts, urban music festivals with international artists, street theatre, street art, outdoor cinema, exhibitions, markets, and feasts.

We really felt a part of the Luxembourg summer spirit!

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!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

I DON’T SPEAK LUXEMBOURGISH!

Not a problem. Everyone pretty much speaks English, with many of the locals speaking German, French or Belgian!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

Nope! Luxembourg is one of the richest and most advanced nations in the world, so  it won’t be necessary for you to live in a cave!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Luxembourg is expensive. And so is this beautiful Jaguar car!
Luxembourg is expensive. And so is this beautiful Jaguar car!

Not a lot I’m afraid.

Luxembourg is exorbitant.

I don’t know why I did this to myself. First Denmark, then Switzerland, and now Luxembourg.

All of these nations are awfully expensive, and regretfully, there’s no avoiding it!

However, have no fear, there are hostels that cater to the more budget conscious traveller such as the AJ Luxembourg Youth Hostel, with prices as low as €50.00 per day for a family room!

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

The Meliá Luxembourg Hotel. Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
The Meliá Luxembourg Hotel.
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Yes, there certainly is!

I was all geared up to settling into the above hostel, when the Visit Luxembourg Tourism Board very kindly offered to book us a complimentary stay at the luxury Meliá Luxembourg Hotel, and provide us with Visit Luxembourg tourist pass City Cards.

And boy were we grateful!

Taking only the night train / bus, and eating only sandwiches, salad and fruit juice, soon begins to take its toll, and so when the call came, both “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I, were bouncing up and down with joy!

Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain for TBEX.
Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain for TBEX.

Thank you so much!

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

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

 I like comfort, and I’m not averse to a little splendour every now and then.

Me being thoughtful during a Live TV broadcast in Germany, and looking as if I'm about to sing! ©Pascale Scerbo Sarro
Me being thoughtful during a Live TV broadcast in Germany, and looking as if I’m about to sing!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

This time around, we went for the indulgence of a newly built luxury Meliá Luxembourg Hotel!

The Meliá Luxembourg Hotel is a cutting-edge hotel with an innovative design, modern rooms, and beautiful views of Place de l’ Europe, which we were able to see from our very wide windows!

There was a bit of construction going on further down the road, but you should be able to get views of the Philharmonia, the Museum of Modern Art, the financial district, or Luxembourg itself!

Huge windows on the Level Room floor of the Meliá Luxembourg Hotel.
Huge windows on the Level Room floor of the Meliá Luxembourg Hotel.

The hotel is quite easy to get to from “town,” as it’s only a 15 minute walk from the historical centre near the park, and the Place d’Armes, or you could take a 10 minute bus ride.

We were upgraded into a Level Room on the 7th floor which was huge!

As was the King Size DREAMAX double bed!

My tween son was horrified!

My son was horrified when he saw the King Size DREAMAX double bed, at the Meliá Luxembourg Hotel!
My son was horrified when he saw the King Size DREAMAX double bed, at the Meliá Luxembourg Hotel!

Luckily, European double rooms usually have two single beds pushed together, so we were able to sleep together, without having to push each other off!

Every room on the Level Room floor are outward facing so that you always get a lovely visual view of something nice.

Our room was spacious, elegant and bright, had a large glass work space table with a cream leather chair located near the window, two rather nice relaxing comfy armchairs, a long wide side-board shelf that you could put stuff or books on, a very large flat screen TV, a few lamps dotted around, a very large wardrobe, and lots of plug holes.

Phew!

Put some tea in the pot. Not coffee! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Put some tea in the pot. Not coffee!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Our room also had an AC unit, a mini-bar, coffee and tea making facilities, and as many teabags as I wanted, being that I’m not a coffee person, so do ask….!

Our very nice en-suite bathroom was fitted out with very, very, nice Loewe beauty products which I liked very much indeed, along with plenty of fluffy towels and slippers, the bathtub, shower, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith sinks!

Yeeeees!

The Meliá Luxembourg Hotel included very fast free wi-fi, a fitness center, sauna and a hammam free of charge.

I didn’t get to try it out this time as the sauna room, unlike the sauna room in Estonia, or the sauna room in Hungary, was tiny, and filled with just guys!

I certaintly won't be going to the sauna European style. Don't forget, I'm British!
I certainly won’t be going to the sauna European style. Don’t forget, I’m British!

I’m British.

European saunas and fear of the unknown always brings me out in a sweat!

Eeek!

For breakfast, we had baked beans, sausages, mushrooms, & made-to-order eggs at the Meliá Luxembourg Hotel!
For breakfast, we had baked beans, sausages, mushrooms, & made-to-order eggs at the Meliá Luxembourg Hotel!

For breakfast, we had a marvellous hot food section which consisted of bacon, sausages, beans, mushrooms, and made-to-order scrambled eggs, as well as a variety of cold cuts, pate, vegetables, sauces, pickles, cream, cereal, fruit, bread, cake, pastries, pots of tea, coffee and juices.

There was also a bottle of champagne hidden away on the back table where the juices were. Just help yourself!

I don’t mind if I do!

Champagne & cake for breakfast at the Meliá Luxembourg Hotel!
Champagne & cake for breakfast at the Meliá Luxembourg Hotel!

We both really liked this hotel!

Luxembourg is one of the richest cities in Europe so it isn’t going to be cheap, but then if you were that stingy, you wouldn’t be in Luxembourg in the first place lol!

Standard room prices are from €400.00 per night, but if you book with the hotel directly and feel like a splurge, they could be as low as €100!

Thanks so much Visit Luxembourg! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Thanks so much Visit Luxembourg!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Tick!

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO LUXEMBOURG?

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

We only went for two (2) days so this was a a bit of a whirlwind cultural family trip. We were kindly given complimentary Visit Luxembourg tourist pass City Cards for the weekend, which at €20.00 per person or €48.00 per family (up to 5 people!), greatly reduced the cost of having to pay individually.

Thanks so much!

There is plenty to do in Luxembourg. You can:

Luxembourg - ©Claude Meisch Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Luxembourg – ©Claude Meisch
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!
  • Make your own independent walking tour. Go to the Luxembourg City Tourist Office, and pick up maps, and as many booklets as you need, then take off!
  • Explore the history and architecture of Luxembourg
  • Marvel at the ancient city and the many palaces
  • Book yourself a guided 45 minutes visit at the splendid Palace of the Grand Dukes. So worth it!
  • Imagine how it would have been to be a member of the European aristocracy
  • Take photographs of the splendid buildings in Luxembourg
  • Wander round the cobbled streets and markets of William Square, otherwise known as Place Guillaume II!
  • Visit the neo-classical 1830 Town Hall
  • Check out superb views of the Petrusse Valley from the Constitutional Square
  • Visit the beautiful Pétrusse Valley Park and tour the valley using the Petrusse Express toy train!
  • Take note of the Gëlle Fra which was dismantled and taken away during WWII, only to be found a few years ago, hidden in the city stadium!
  • Relax and take a break at the leafy Parlour of the City, otherwise known as the Place d’Armes!
 Walk on the grand 1903 Adolphe Bridge ©Claude Wians from Luxembourg
Walk on the grand 1903 Adolphe Bridge
©Claude Wians from Luxembourg
Wener Recontre 1883 - Villa Vauban Art Museum in Luxembourg Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Wener Recontre 1883 – Villa Vauban Art Museum in Luxembourg
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!
  • Discover the Fishmarket
  • Spend a day running through the restored remains of the 1732 Fort Thüngen hosted by the Musée Dräi Eechelen
  • Stroll freely through the cobbled side streets in the historic Old City
  • Peep into every corner, and walk onto every little path that you see. And why not?
  • Join in the summer celebrations
  • Go people-watching inside the flea market and the farmers market
  • Merely ramble along the historical streets
  • Check out the various cafes, bars and restaurants for a quick bite and a few rounds of very nice expensive French wine!
  • Go shopping
  • Or don’t do anything at all, but enjoy the moment!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

You can also go by horse! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
You can also go by horse!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Luxembourg is tiny. Everywhere is walkable, but local trains and buses are simple to use. And while we were there, free of charge!

I’m not entirely sure why, but something to do with it being a weekend lol!

You can also use your bicycle or rent a car, but whatever you do, we were warned, don’t take a taxi!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Everywhere in Luxembourg is utterly expensive, including my Luxembourg beer! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Everywhere in Luxembourg is utterly expensive, including my Luxembourg beer!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Now, let’s be realistic. Everywhere in Luxembourg is utterly expensive.

Prepare for really high prices, and either suck it up or go to Thailand!

There’s also free city wifi in Luxembourg. I wasn’t able to access it, but you might have better luck!

MY VERDICT:

Excited to go to Luxembourg! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Excited to go to Luxembourg!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

I was excited to go to Luxembourg.

It’s small. It’s aristocratic. It’s got history, art and culture, and is fantastically green. It’s not your average budget destination or any other destination for that matter, but if you plan carefully, you can make it work!

If you’ve been trying to find a reason to visit Luxembourg, you’ve got it right there!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

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

Totally!

I intend to do just that and can’t wait to visit again.

Let’s do it!

LUXEMBOURG: A SMART GUIDE to the GRAND DUCHY of one of EUROPE’S SMALLEST COUNTRIES!

Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

This article is part sponsored, and even though Visit Luxembourg Tourism Board very kindly offered to book us a complimentary stay at the luxury Meliá Luxembourg Hotel, and provide us with Visit Luxembourg tourist pass City Cards, all opinions and the wonderful arch of the Viaduct Bridge that we wove in and out of, are my very own!

Berlin Art Week will take place from 13.09.16 – 18.09.16, so if you like contemporary art, this is the place for it!

The Down Under Berlin Australian & New Zealand Film Festival, will also take place from 14.09.16 – 18.09.16, which is the largest film festival in Europe dedicated to Australian and New Zealand film!

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

Save the Date!

September is going to be crammed with art and film!

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

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

Watch this space!

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

Have you ever been to Luxembourg? Which small country do you know? Have your say!

See you in Berlin.

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