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!
“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!
“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!!

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.
“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!!
“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!

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.

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

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!

Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to a few hotels. Please consider using the link, because every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link 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 like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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

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 went to Usedom, Bremen, Osnabrück, and of course, 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!

Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to a few hotels. Please consider using the link, because every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link 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 like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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

Oh what fun! Tapas, Sangria and a food walking tour in Madrid!

Serrano ham tapas for everyone!
Serrano ham tapas for everyone!

I’ve just got back from Spain & Portugal!

Eeeeeexciting!

And even though during that period of time, a most horrific event occurred, I’m not going to dwell on it any longer than to say, don’t be scared to travel abroad, don’t let fear take control. Just live the life you want!

On the cricket field at one of my best friend's wedding on the Isle of Wight. In the UK!
On the cricket field at one of my best friend’s wedding on the Isle of Wight.
In the UK!

A few weeks ago, I told you that I would be going to England and Spain and Portugal. And I did!

I went to my Master of Arts Graduation Ceremony which was awesome and because I needed to work off all the champagne that we drank, I also went on a little hike to the English countryside. In Cheshire!

WHY SPAIN?

 

Espana - Spain.
Espana – Spain.

I know Spain quite well.

Indeed, I went to Spain only last year but it was more of a business trip-ish since it was about the business of professional blogging, improving one’s skills and networking.

For networking purposes most travel bloggers tend to either go to TBEX in Europe, North America or Asia or to the ITB which is on my home turf of Berlin!

There be dragons in Barcelona, Spain.
There be dragons in Barcelona, Spain.

I usually prefer Barcelona but this time I decided to go to Madrid and Seville and take the family with me.

It’s been over thirteen (13) years since I last went to Madrid and after last years’ nightmare experience, it was clearly time to go back again.

In going to destinations, I always like to call upon locals or expat locals, to give the low-down, and show us around.

In Madrid, we had the opportunity to go on a food walking tour and in Seville, we went along with my American blogger friend – KemKem from Next Bite of Life –  and her Italian husband.

A WALKING TOUR? AGAIN!?!

I absolutely love walking! ©Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I absolutely love walking!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

I’m a walker.

I absolutely love walking.

Walking around is a brilliant way to see where you are, establish your bearings and get to grips with your surroundings.

I had gone on the internet looking for a tour that would be informative and at the same time local and found SANDEMANs NEW Europe free walking tours. This company runs tours in Tel Aviv, New York, and most European capital cities. In fact, I have taken the Berlin walking tour myself!

Yep! Even though, I live in Berlin, I love taking a walking tour so that I can keep up to date with new buildings and infrastructure.

The truth is, most people have absolutely no idea of their own city. It just makes logical sense!

In economic times, finding a way to cut costs is all the rage, and you know how much I love walking tours especially free tours, but sometimes I go on intriguing tours too, and I’ve even written a few of my own!

Inspiring Street Art in Berlin.
Inspiring Street Art in Berlin.

Here they all are:

Nepal
Nepal

A few weeks ago, I was at the ITB Berlin and because I needed to get to England pretty much the next day, I had to re-arrange all my appointments over 24 hours rather than in five (5) days!

One of those appointments that I managed to snag was that of meeting David O’Kelly – the Chief Executive Officer of SANDEMANs NEW Europe Walking Tours.

David comes from Manchester in England, just like myself, so we were able to have a really good natter about life as an expat in Germany in general and the business of walking tours in particular.

He was super professional and offered me a choice of any walking tour that I desired over a two month period, with absolutely no pressure to write about any of them. I chose walking tours in Madrid and Lisbon.

Thanks so much SANDEMANs NEW Europe Walking Tours!

I decided to go on the New Madrid Tapas Experience.

We had a bit of difficulty getting everything sorted as the special code that I needed to book it, wouldn’t work. Thankfully, David came to the rescue and personally called the Madrid City Manager to book us in, as their guests.

THE SANDEMANs NEW MADRID TAPAS EXPERIENCE!

The SANDEMANs New Madrid Tapas Experience Walking Tour. And drinks!
The SANDEMANs New Madrid Tapas Experience Walking Tour.
And drinks!

The SANDEMANs New Madrid Tapas Experience walking tour is described as one of the best ways to discover the best tapas places in Madrid with local tapas connoisseurs, and the secrets of Spanish gastronomy!

Our tour started at 19:00 in front of the Tourist Information Office, at the quite popular Plaza Mayor Square.

There were a few other tours taking place at the same time such as the Spanish Inquisition Tour, but the Tapas Experience had the largest crowd of all. We must have been about 50-60 odd people divided into two groups – Spanish-speaking and the largest one – English-speaking. Our guide was Guille and even though the Spanish-speaking guide was Dani, made an effort to involve everyone who was in the group and together made an awesome team!

Most of us were there for one thing, and one thing only – Taaaaaapas!

WHAT ACTUALLY IS TAPAS?

Tapas for Everyone! © Elemaki - José Porras.
Tapas for Everyone!
© Elemaki – José Porras.

Simply put, a tapa or tapas are a wide variety of food served as an appetizer or snack.

The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb “tapar,” meaning “to cover,” and also “on top of” or “a lid” and even to mean “small portion” and there are many stories, depending on which Spanish city you happen to be in lol!

One theory is that the tapas were slices of bread or meat which punters in taverns used to cover their glasses against dirt, dust, and fruit flies, between sips. The meat used to cover drinks was usually ham or chorizo, which were both very salty and activate thirst.

Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners created a variety of snacks to serve with alcohol, thus increasing their alcohol sales.

Portrait of King Alfonso XIII in the uniform of the Hussars.
Portrait of King Alfonso XIII in the uniform of the Hussars.

I like the story which states that King Alfonso XIII stopped by a famous tavern in Cádiz (Andalusian city), where he ordered a cup of wine. The waiter covered the glass with a slice of cured ham before offering it to the king, to protect the wine from the beach sand as Cádiz was a windy place, and he didn’t want to lose his head!

The king, after drinking the wine and eating the tapas, ordered another wine “with the cover,” and to this day, the law and thus tradition, continues!

There are different types of tapas and punters can order a wide range of tapas or combine them, to make a full meal.

Traditionally, the serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation, and it is customary for diners to stand and move about, while talking and eating!

THE FOOD WALKING TOUR

We started our walking tour at the Museo del Jamon.

We had actually dropped by the night before, but my husband – The Music Producer – was slightly over-whelmed by the crowds as it was quite late, and the merriment was in full swing, so it was nice to be in a crowd of our own lol!

A Spanish Tinto de Verano (sangria) and chorizo tapas in a bun at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid.
A Spanish Tinto de Verano (sangria) and chorizo tapas in a bun at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid.

We were offered drinks and a snack in a bun.

Iberico ham iin Spain.
Iberico ham in Spain.

Followed by trays by cold cuts, sausages and a variety of cheese.

As far as tapas goes, there are the free tapas and the paid-for tapas. If you’re drinking ordinarily, the tapas is included and is 100% free. Don’t expect sophisticated luxury though!

What you’ll get in general, are olives, crisps or potato chips, mini buns, sliced sausages, ham or salami or cheese. And not all at the same time!

The more you drink, the more you are given. In fact, we liked the concept so much that we went back again on our own!

You do need to watch yourself and be assertive though, as the Museo del Jamon is teeming with locals and if you stand out as a tourist, the first thing that they plonk down is the menu, and no free goodies!

However. Aha!

Real drinks with real prices. On our own at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid!
Real drinks with real prices.
On our own at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid!

Once I had made it known that we knew what we were doing and that we weren’t “just tourists,” the real deal was given to us.

Spanish chorizo and crisps (potato chips) tapas. On our own at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid!
Spanish chorizo and crisps (potato chips) tapas.
On our own at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid!

Back to the New Madrid Tapas Experience walking tour!

After spending some time at the Museo del Jamon, we then went to a local tapas bar and restaurant called Rosi La Loca Taberna.

As we were a large group we were given two long rows of tables so that we could mix and get to know each other. On my left side were a group of people from England in their late 50’s, and in front of me a group of people from Argentina in their late 20’s!

The Argentinians were great, and engaged “The Tall Young Gentleman” in a little bit of Spanish as that is his third (3rd) language at school. He’s bilingual and already fluent in both German and English!

He’s also very interested in Korean, but we’ll see!

We liked this place so much that we went back here again too!

Gin and tonic (G&T) Spanish style! ©Albert Mollon - Getty Images.
Gin and tonic (G&T) Spanish style!
©Albert Mollon – Getty Images.

At the Rosi La Loca Taberna, we were served jars of clear liquid, which we all thought was water.

At first!

But it wasn’t!

It was Gin and Tonic!

And the first time we knew of it was when “The Tall Young Gentleman” took a gulp of “icy water” and instantly spat it out, declaring that the “water” had gone off!!

Classic Homemade Paella at Rosi La Loca Taberna. In Madrid!
Classic Homemade Paella at Rosi La Loca Taberna.
In Madrid!

After that, we had shared paella in iron skillets coupled with patatas bravas and Spanish croquettes.

Spanish Croquettes in Madrid.
Spanish Croquettes in Madrid.

Our last destination was at a tavern luckily, just a few feet from our own hotel! This tavern was called Taberna la Cristiana.

Taberna la Cristiana in Madrid.
Taberna la Cristiana in Madrid.

This time around, our tapas mates were a group of young people from Italy, Romania and Brazil on my left hand side, and the Brits and some Americans on my right hand side.

Possibly!

My memory’s a bit fuzzy here as I didn’t take my note-book!

Slabs of bagette covered in plain Spanish cheese without the dollop of brown Spanish sauce! ©Trujillo Villas España.
Slabs of bagette covered in plain Spanish cheese without the dollop of brown Spanish sauce!
©Trujillo Villas España.

We had another portion of paella with green spicy peppers, bowls of olives (yuk!) and slabs of baguette covered in plain Spanish cheese and a dollop of brown Spanish sauce!

And then came that extra Spanish tradition of pouring cider down from some sort of drinking bag!

Under normal circumstances, traditional Asturian Cider is used but for some reason, we had Spanish red wine!

Cider is extremely popular in Spain where cider-drinking is national pride and taken quite seriously.

At first, none of us knew how to use the “bagpipe.”

Spanish cider poured in a certain way or collected in a glass and drunk straight from the barrel! ©foodswinesfromspain.com
Spanish cider poured in a certain way or collected in a glass and drunk straight from the barrel!
©foodswinesfromspain.com

I didn’t get to taste Spanish cider this time around, but I’m told that it can only be found in certain parts of the country, and poured in a certain way, or collected in a glass, and drunk straight from the barrel!

Really dry sidra is served by a peculiar “throwing” method, where an expert escanciador (waiter) will pour the drink from a great height, splashing it onto the side of the glass to aerate it, giving it a mousse-like texture akin to champagne. These short measures should then be downed quickly.

Basically, it’s like standing on a tall chair and trying to pour cider into the mouth of a person who’s sitting down!

I had to tuck in a napkin as wine had trickled all down my green wind-breaker! In Madrid!
I had to tuck in a napkin as wine had trickled all down my green wind-breaker!
In Madrid!

Let me tell you.

It takes a little skill, as every one of us ended up pouring red wine down our front.

I even had to tuck in a napkin, as wine had trickled all down my green wind-breaker!

Lots of fun!

Here’s the info:

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND SPANISH?

Nope!

These tour are in English AND Spanish! If English isn’t your native-language not to worry, just keep drinking!

WHAT DO I NEED?

More drinks are always welcome in Madrid!
More drinks are always welcome in Madrid!

A pair of good shoes, a rain-jacket in case it rains, a few Euros for extra drinks, and a huge smile!

HOW MUCH?

This tour cost €16.00 and was well worth the price.

If you’re feeling particularly energetic, there’s a Majestic Madrid €12.00, a Spanish Inquisition Tour €12.00, a Pub Crawl €12.00 and if you’re really broke, down and out, or simply hung-over, free tours which cost €0.00!

Kids under 13 if accompanied by an adult, are able to join the paid tours and are free of charge. No children under 18 are accepted for any of the pub crawls in any country though!

WHERE & WHEN?

Every day. At 19:00.

The meeting point is in front of the Tourist Information Office at the Plaza Mayor.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Yes.

The tour takes about 2-3 hours. We were a little tired after a day of travelling but if you’re up for it, you could hang-out with the tour-guide and other members of your tour group, and really make a night of it!

Spanish patatas bravas - baked potato wedges with their skins on and sour cream and spicy sauce.
Spanish patatas bravas – baked potato wedges with their skins on and sour cream and spicy sauce.

MY VERDICT:

Absolutely worth it!

The idea of a food walking tour around a city is enormously appealing, and something that everyone should do. At least once. It also gives you confidence to move around on your own as you now know what to do, where to go, and how to get there.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this walking tour, please contact: SANDEMANs New Madrid Tapas Experience.

For more information about alternative ways of exploring Madrid, please contact: SANDEMANs NEW Madrid Tours.

WHAT IF A WALKING TOUR ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Keep reading my blog. There’s more to come!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary ticket, all opinions and the enticing tapas that I willingly quaffed, are my very own!

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

I have so much to share with you so for the rest of April, I will be writing about our adventures in Spain and Portugal.

April is going to be a lovely month.

Watch this space!

Tapas, sangria and a food walking tour in Madrid!
Tapas, sangria and a food walking tour in Madrid!

Have you been on a food walking tour? Have you been to Madrid? Do you like walking?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions or concerns about travelling anywhere in Europe, 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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