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

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

Teenagers! You’ve got to love ’em!

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

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

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

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

Children are versatile.

And they don’t really need much.

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

Yes, you.

The parent!

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

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

Believe you me. They know!

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

What are you talking about`?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not to worry.

This is what happened.

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

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

I took my teenager to Amsterdam!

I know!

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

To Amsterdam.

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

Nightlife in Amsterdam...
Nightlife in Amsterdam…

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

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

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

And here’s the link!

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

Here goes!

SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT AMSTERDAM

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

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

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

Did you know that:

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

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

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

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

Book your hotel here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was this.

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

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

Neither of us quite knew where to look!

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

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

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

We went to a place called the Cheese Inn Museum. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dutch Farmhouse Cheese with Italian Black Truffle. Mmm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just so love rivers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it.

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

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

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

The Rijksmuseum is the iconic museum of the Netherlands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was clear that we had a most interesting time.

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

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

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

Go see for yourself.

Thanks so much Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum!

Book your hotel here!

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

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

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

It’s January!

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

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

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

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

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

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

January is going to be striking!

Watch this space!

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

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

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

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

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

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

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

See you in Berlin.

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

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

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10 reasons to go to Barcelona – And it’s not only for tapas and sangria, but you know, I’ll take it anyway!

The headless man in Barcelona, Spain.
The headless man in Barcelona, Spain.

So last week, I told you how I got abandoned at Barcelona Airport and it was pretty traumatising. Not only did I have to go through a flight delay with Vueling before I got to Spain but I went through a horrendous flight delay with Norwegian, on the way back to Germany too.

You really couldn’t make it up.

The fact is, whenever you go through an unpleasant time, it leaves a slight taste in your mouth and then you have a negative image of that destination.

The fact is, you begin to think it was that place rather than that airline.

Spain - Here we come!
Spain – Here we come!

The fact is, Spain is a great country to go to and Barcelona is just a thrill and I reeeeeally do like Barcelona and don’t want last week’s post to spoil the good time that I DID have in Spain so perhaps, I might go back to Spain again sometime this year.

It deserves a second chance.

One of the best things about going to the TBEX EUROPE conference is that you get the opportunity to be introduced to other organisations and outlets that you might not have thought of. You also get interviewed. I was asked, by the Travel Massive community in Spain, whether it was worth attending TBEX. Here’s the link to what I said!

Catalonia or Catalunya, Spain. Spain - Catalonia
Catalonia or Catalunya, Spain.
Spain – Catalonia

Now, I’ve actually been to Barcelona about four (4) times now, and this was the fifth (5th) time so I knew Barcelona as a fun city, but I didn’t know Barcelona as a cultural city!

As you know, my time was extremely limited in Lloret de Mar and I really only had one day to play with as the TBEX EUROPE bloggers conference took place from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15. Basically, three (3) days and nicely done over a public holiday and the weekend.

My initial plan was to use May 3rd to go to Barcelona, as you can’t be in the region and NOT go to Barcelona. That would be sacrilege!

Moventis, Sarfa.

As a TBEX EUROPE accredited blogger, the city of Lloret de Mar and the region of Costa Brava did their very best to provide either complimentary, or reduced-priced transport.

Now for those of you who have been following my blog in the last year (thank you so much!), you know that I attend quite a few parties, festivals, and events and I’m not averse to having a jolly good time LOL! I do however, also like history and culture, so I signed up with a company called Context Travel or #DeepTravel.

Context Travel had tours operating in Barcelona and in order to join the tour, I had to make my own way down …

Barcelona isn’t actually that close to Lloret de Mar and depending on where you are going, can take up to two (2) hours…..Since I wasn’t going to the airport, I decided to make use of local transportation which would comprise of either taking the bus or the train. Would you believe it if I told you that travelling by bus was much faster?

shutterstock-92810047-zob

You know how I love coach-bus travel so by bus it was to be.

On the last official night of TBEX EUROPE there was a closing party at a local club in Lloret de Mar. I was still quite exhausted from sleeping at the airport the previous day so I decided to go back to my hotel a little after midnight! Thankfully, the lovely 4-star – Hotel Gran Garbi in Lloret de Mar was about just seven (7) minutes away from the local coach-bus station so I sprinted towards it and took the 09:30 bus to Barcelona early on Sunday morning!

The fantastic thing about the Lloret de Mar coach-bus station is that not only could you go straight to the airport, but you could also travel to Toss de Mar, Barcelona, Girona and France!

I didn’t have any time for France but I did have the whole day allocated to spending as much time as possible in Barcelona.

Train & Bus tickets in Barcelona, Spain.

In order to get a return ticket, you have to choose and book the time that you wish to return. It’s a long journey so I chose the outward journey of 09:30 and a return time of 19:15. A return ticket would usually cost €10.75 but with a TBEX “pass” it cost just €9.75. Every penny counts.

The bus was quite comfortable, very clean, and pretty much fully booked. I ended up sitting next to an Italian guy who lived in Switzerland and had travelled to Spain to get his suit custom-made! He was pretty worried about getting his suit squashed and spent the whole journey holding it. He was fun to talk to though!

The bus is described as having WiFi but it didn’t work all the time, and on the return journey didn’t work at all!

From the Land of the Dead.
From the Land of the Dead.

I was set to meet Context Travel at 11:00.

Our meeting point was at the Hard Rock Cafe on Plaça Catalunya. When I got to Est Nord – which is the Barcelona Central Coach-Bus Station – I realised that I only had twenty (20) minutes to get to the meeting point, so I took a taxi.

You hear many things about the unscrupulous taxi drvers in Barcelona.

And the cost?

€5.00!

I didn’t get cheated at all and I managed to get to the Hard Rock Cafe with two (2) minutes to spare!

And then I looked around.

No tour guide but very creative students in Barcelona, Spain. Getting "married!"
No tour guide but very creative students in Barcelona, Spain.
Getting “married!”

No tour guide!

No person, man or woman holding-a-context-travel-sign-with-the-name-of-the-tour as instructed.

No umbrella person.

No groups of lost-looking-tourists-also-going-on-the-tour.

Nothing!

Sigh!

He was in the Shopping District in Barcelona, Spain. Gorgeous!
He was in the Shopping District in Barcelona, Spain.
Gorgeous!

I spent fifteen (15) minutes staring into the faces and peering at random strangers, hoping that they were the guide. Or lost tourists.

And then I saw a woman constantly looking at her phone and wearing pedal pushers. Could she be?

Yep! She was a blogger – Luxe Travel Family.

A fellow TBEX EUROPE blogger.

Hurrah! I’m not in Kansas anymore Toto!

And she was standing next to a young lady. She was a blogger too! – Travel Geekery.

And then not more than a few minutes later a woman came huffing and puffing. Another blogger! – Rachel Heller.

Hurrah, for TBEX EUROPE bloggers.

But wait. Where was our guide?

We’re experienced travel bloggers. We have social media at our finger tips. We’ve climbed volcanos, interviewed top artists, and sat on the front row at Fashion Week, surely we know what to do with all that technology at our finger tips?

Yeeeeeah!

So we called up.

Yep! We used the telephone LOL!

Anyway, it transpired that the organisers had messed up. There was a guide who was at the other side of Barcelona who had been waiting for a group of tourists who hadn’t turned up, and we were on the opposite side of the city thinking the same thing….!

Biel - our guide in Barcelona.
Biel – our guide in Barcelona.

In less than twenty minutes, our lovely guide arrived. His name was Biel. He was an absolute top fellow, in his late twenties, and professional. After making sure we were all together and brief introductions, off we went.

I’m an eager beaver, so I booked up for two (2) tours. The first one was called: The Gothic Quarter and the second one was called: Gràcia and the Spirit of Catalan Independence!

The Festival of The Day of the Virgin Mary, in Barcelona, Spain.
The Festival of The Day of the Virgin Mary, in Barcelona, Spain.

For the Gothic Quarter Tour, it was just the four (4) of us so Biel was really flexible and let us concentrate on the things that we were interested in or in anything we saw. And we saw a lot of things not even included in the tour because May 3rd was a public holiday in Barcelona, and the locals were celebrating  the festival of The Day of the Virgin Mary!

Loads of local Spaniards were out and about and I saw lots of families with children putting their blanket on the cool stone stabs and simply having a picnic, right there in the historic quarter of the Roman era! The festival turned into a bit of a musical parade which was in full force, and we even left the tour for about 20 minutes and joined in the parade itself.

Barcelona, Spain.

Now this is being in Barcelona!

It was a great day, extremely sunny and the feeling that I was really in Spain, began to slowly settle in.

Si!

So let’s have some history:

BARCELONA

Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain.
Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona,, although not the capital of Spain, is indeed the capital of Catalunya or Catalonia and with 1.6 million people, is the second largest city, after Madrid, – Spain’s real capital city! It’s an old city founded by the Romans and emerging in importance in the Middle Ages. It’s a city that is over 2,000 years old and is open to the sea and influenced by many cultures.

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city and a capital of business and commerce as well as a leading tourist destination, with some of the world’s finest architects having left their mark that integrate with the elegance of the Eixample district, and the down-to-earth squares of the Gràcia districts.

Barcelona, Spain.

It’s a fantastic city of both history and culture and it’s no wonder that millions of people flock there.

Catalonia’s fight for Spanish independence was based on political and historical ground, as far back as the 14th century, but was lost in 1714. The region got a resurgence of Catalan nationalism in the 19th century but with the dictatorship of General Franco, all of Spain was in dire straits.

Today however, Barcelona is a mediterranean city  that invites you to stroll on it’s streets filled with life and atmosphere, or to breathe in the rich ancient language of the Catalan people.

 THE GOTHIC QUARTER AND GRACIA AND THE SPIRIT OF CATALAN INDEPENDENCE

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

Barcelona’s Barri Gótic, or the Gothic Quarter is one of the best preserved medieval districts in the world, where you can ramble through the squares and hidden corners and discover the charm of buildings that are hundreds of years old.

We certainly did.

Our guide – Biel – took us through the layers of Barcelona from ancient Roman times, through the Middle Ages and until the 19th century.

The ancient Barcino Temple in Barcelona, Spain.
The ancient Barcino Temple in Barcelona, Spain.

We were shown the remains of a Roman gate, parts of the Roman wall and some Roman architecture. You all know the saying that “All Roads lead to Rome.” Not only that, but did you know that the saying in Barcelona goes – “All Roads lead to Rome and to the Gate of Augustus!”

It’s certainly true as in practically every twist and turn in and in every back alley, you could see a part of Roman history and Roman architecture and ideas that comprised of guilds, sophisticated professional and merchant classes, and a rich religious life for many religions.

FC Barcelona.
FC Barcelona.

Later in the day, I went on my second tour to Gràcia and as I was the only guest, it ended up being a private tour of one.

I also got to know a little bit about Biel as we sat in the Spanish sun and drank a can of non-alcoholic beer!!!!

Biel – the tour guide – was actually a young academic and an Art Historian who had not only been working with Context for three (3) years, but was also teaching at the local university AND was also involved in a local street festival, that took place once a year. The celebration was called the Festivity of Gràcia or the Fest de Gràcia and was a community effort.

Barcelona, Spain.

I had a look at his workshop which had signs asking for the locals to send in their recyclable products that he and his team needed, and they did. In fact, the project was so successful that last year, they won first prize for creativity.

Gràcia is very different from Barcelona Central and quite working class. There were hardly any tourists around and lots and lots of locals sitting in the sun, drinking, playing or just chatting.

I saw many churches, places of worship. And flags. I also got a peek into the history of the rise for independence by the Catalan people and even though Biel said nothing to suggest his feelings, I could feel the passion in his voice.

The Catalan people are proud. Proud of their language, proud of their culture, and proud of their soul.

Iberico ham.
Iberico ham.

If you’re thinking of going to a warm European city where the sun always shines, Barcelona is a good bet.

Here are ten (10) reasons why:

  1. Barcelona is easy to reach by plane, train, and by ship.
  2. If you like “living” history, there are so many open-air museums, squares and streets that you can stroll through. Take your time, close your eyes and imagine that you’re right back in time. At every turn and nook and cranny, you can bump into medieval bridges, romanesque chapels and gothic arches.
  3. The most brilliant works of Catalan Art Nouveau such as the marvellous beauty – La Sagrada Família –  are to be found all over the city through it’s most talented son – Gaudi.
  4. The Catalan people have a patron saint called Sant Jordi who happens to be the exact same patron saint of England – Saint George. I couldn’t believe it. I was enthralled and delighted.
  5. Look for dragons which are hidden. You can find them everywhere. If you look! Take a closer look at the architecture, in the stones and on the windows. They’re all over the place!
  6. The traditions of Catalonia are so rich that it is packed with carnivals, festivals, dances, bonfires, streets and squares filled with “Giants” and human towers that are such an exquisite sight, that the castellers have been declared a World Intangible Heritage! It was such a shame that I missed seeing them personally on my first day, due to my flight delay…
  7. Catalonia isn’t just Barcelona but consists of a diversity of land and regions ranging from the rugged Pyrenees, charming villages and towns, and farmed fields of the plain, not to talk of the beautiful sea, and has 16 natural parks and nature reserves, and a collection of sea scapes and mountains that are as wide in size, as the country of Belgium!
  8. Check out Barcelona’s most modern stadium and visit FC Barcelona filled with such beauties and talents, as Neymar and Lionel Messi!
  9. Visit Barcelona’s open-air or Historic Trail Markets and stuff yourself with the abundance of extremely tasty natural produce and gastronomy, based on seasonal produce such as paella, tapas, seafood, fideuà (a type of noodle casserole), black rice, home-made desserts and Cervesa.
  10. Discover and hang out in Barcelona’s underground scene that includes wild jam sessions, techno dancefloors, film screenings and flamenco!
A special Catalan dish at Carmelitas Tapas in Barcelona, Spain.
A special Catalan dish at Carmelitas Tapas in Barcelona, Spain.

I only had roughly eight (8) hours to spend in Barcelona in which I went on two (2) walking tours, had a local lunch at a Spanish bistro that served traditional tapas and typical Catalan dishes, with the bloggers. The bistro was called Carmelitas Tapas. After that I had some ice-cream, and still managed to take a couple of selfies at the Arc de Triomf, and in plenty of time to take the coach-bus back to Lloret de Mar!

if you’re interested in history and art then Context Travel or #DeepTravel might be a good fit for you.

I loved my day out and found Barcelona utterly charming!

Barcelona, Spain.

Here are the details:

WHAT IS CONTEXT TRAVEL?

Context Travel also known as #DeepTravel, is a network of scholars and specialists who specialise in archaeology, art history, cuisine, urban planning, history, environmental science, and the classics, and who design and lead in-depth walking seminars for small groups of people who are intellectually curious.

Their vision is to bring together local scholars and specialists, with visitors who are curious, so that they can learn and allow them access to places and cultures that might otherwise remain out of sight. Their biggest goal is to take visitors off the tourist track and into the real life of the people, history, and culture.

My type of people then!

WHAT IS THE GOTHIC QUARTER TOUR ABOUT?

Barcelona, Spain.

The Gothic Quarter Tour goes through the heart of the town, learning about the evolution of Barcelona, going through the neighbourhood, walking through Barcelona’s main market, into La Ramblas and taking a look at how modern development has changed the city in the 18th and 19th centuries. You get to learn about the rich religious life and Barcelona’s history through the remains of the ancient city, the medieval splendor, the modern technology and the cosmopolitan urban mix.

WHAT IS THE GRACIA AND THE SPIRIT OF CATALAN INDEPENDENCE TOUR ABOUT?

St. George AND the red cross on the streets of Barcelona, Spain.
St. George AND the red cross on the streets of Barcelona, Spain.

The Gràcia Tour is about the loss of independence in the region of Catalan and the neighbourhood of Gràcia. The walk introduces us to the intricacies of Catalan history and culture, the difference between the Catalan and the Spanish and why they continue to fight for independence. The tour also shows the wealth of the area during the Industrial Revolution and at the same time, the village-like feel of the tiny squares, the places of worship, the narrow streets and the romantic architecture.

Phew!

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND SPANISH?

Nope!

These tour are in English. If English isn’t your native-language not to worry, as the company can arrange customised tours.

Some Spanish biscuit and cake!
Some Spanish biscuit and cake!

WHAT DO I NEED?

A pair of good shoes, a pair of sunglasses, suncream, a hat, a huge bottle of water, a few Euros for a snack, and a huge smile!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Yes. The tours are extremely small and have no more than six (6) people at a time. It’s a little pricey at $91.00 or €80.00 but if you want professional art historians who really know their stuff, then it’s worth the price.

The tour is three hours long so don’t make an important appointment immediately after. You might want to hang-out with the tour-guide and other members of your tour group, over a beer or two.

MY VERDICT:

Barcelona, Spain.

I’m aspiring to be an art history and culture buff, so it was just perfect. If you’re not that well inclined, then they do customise tours for individual groups. As my last tour was just me, my tour guide did just that. We focused on the things that were of interest to me and skipped the ones that weren’t!

Everyone should do a walking tour every now and then, if only to make sure that you know exactly what you’re talking about or can follow up with someone who does LOL!

I really enjoyed the tours but I don’t recommend them for children or young teenagers. Highly recommended for a more intimate, hands-on experience.

Many Thanks to TBEX, TBEX EUROPE, the Catalunya Experience, Costa Brava, Lloret de Mar, Context Travel and all the wonderful bloggers that I met, for the good times and for their warm hospitality.

See you in Stockholm, 2016.

This article is not sponsored, and even though I was a guest of Context, all opinions and the Iberico ham and lovely red wine that I consumed, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Paletilla Iberica at Carmelitas Tapas in Barcelona, Spain.
Paletilla Iberica at Carmelitas Tapas in Barcelona, Spain.

Next week, I’ll be back about the secrets of Estonia and what we did in Tallinn with the help of the Tallinn Card, what the view was like on the ferry crossing from Estonia to Finland with TALLINK SLJA LINE and what we thought about Helsinki in Finland!

The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. It’s going to be great.

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

If you’re not in Berlin right now, then you’re losing the experience of Berlin – the place to be!

May is going to be exciting.

Watch this space!

About to leap outside the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona, Spain!
About to leap outside the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona, Spain!

 

Have you ever been to Barcelona? Are you a fan of Gaudia or a fan of sangria?

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

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Gosh! Riga in Latvia is gorgeous: 10 reasons to go there right now!

Photo@ J-O Eriksson

Bring out the pimms!

Things are definitely moving for me as The British Berliner.

Not only did I participate in a [VIDEO] interview that I contributed to as a representative of the Berlin Travel Massive Blogger Community at the ITB Berlin last month,  but I was again approached by a respectable Berlin on-line newspaper to do a video interview about my views on the upcoming British national elections!

I’ll let you know when it’s done!

Spain - Here we come!
Spain – Here we come!

As far as travelling is concerned, at the end of the week I will be on a very, very, very short break to Spain.

Hoooooola!

Unfortunately, it won’t be a long break of sunny bathing and tequila drinking as I still have to hand in and complete my Masters’ Dissertation at the University of Chester. In England.

Oh dear me no.

Sigh!

Bloggers at the ITB in Berlin.
Bloggers at the ITB in Berlin.

I’ll be going to the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference otherwise known as TBEX to do a little networking, learn something new and meet other international bloggers. I’ll tell you all about it in May, after I’ve walked all over town and I’ve gorged myself on tapas.

For now though let’s get back to where I was just a few weeks ago in the Baltic Region.

So I’ve written about our adventure in Lithuania and the very excellent but enormously cheap food that we had in Vilnius.

Ah! Good Times!

Get ready for the other country in oh-my-gosh-is-it-or-isn’t-it-in-Eastern-Europe….

LATVIA

A song and dance festival in Latvia.

The Baltic States might be small in landmass but the countries are considered to be old European in look, rich culture, enchanting history, and long-established tradition. In fact, quite enchanting!

Latvia, also known as the pearl of the Baltic States and officially as the Republic of Latvia, is situated in the Baltic Region of Northern Europe – on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

I absolutely love the Baltic Sea and make every effort to go there every two years but from the Polish side rather than the German one!

Harmony of the countryside in Latvia.  Photo@ Arturs Jasinskis
Harmony of the countryside in Latvia.
Photo@ Arturs Jasinskis

Latvia is a multi-cultured state and right in the middle of Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia and Russia! As the Lithuanians, the Latvians are Balts by ethnic and linguistic origin and although separate independent countries, have closely related languages. The Latvians also have indigenous people called Livs and the two neighbouring countries both speak an Indo-European language and are the only two true Baltic languages that have survived!

Happily, all the traditions have merged together creating a unique environment, a vast cultural historical heritage.and a country-state of about 2 million people.

Latvia, is also a country not well-known and even within the E.U. itself, many Europeans have a hard time remembering what the capital city is.

It’s Riga by the way!

RIGA

Lovely Riga in Latvia.
Lovely Riga in Latvia.

Riga is the capital city of Latvia and also the largest city in the Baltic State Region.

You might not have ever heard of Latvia, but surely you’ve seen those pictures of elegant men and woman strolling arm in arm on the tiny streets of Riga nourished by Russian glamour and elegant Art Nouveau boulevards!

It's Me! Don't I look fabulous?
It’s Me! Don’t I look fabulous?

Riga is a metropolis pulsing with life, romantic walks and live music and celebration. It’s a medieval city that has been preserved and still shows traces of its religious and Romanesque past and has been proudly inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the wonder that is it’s unique architecture in the “old town” and also as one of the European Capitals of Culture designed to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe and increase the sense of belonging to our common cultural area that is the European Union. And this took place in all of 2014!

Wow!

WHY GO TO RIGA?

Art Nouveau in Riga, Latvia.

So let’s get down to brass tacks. Riga in Latvia is gorgeous. I’m going to give you ten (10) reasons to go there right now!

  1. The architecture is amazing: Everywhere you look is an impressive piece of art from each and every era. Whether you like art nouveau, romanesque, gothic or baroque architectural style, if you wanted it, you would find it within a few paces. The only city that I can think of that would be similar is London. Do you know that if you looked hard enough, you would even find parts of the old Roman London Wall!
  2. It’s in the “other” Eastern Europe: It’s still pretty unknown, very far “East” and not on either the backpackers or tourist run, so it’s pretty cheap and is never going to break the bank.
  3. It’s a Baltic hub: If you’re looking to go to the Baltic States then of course, you have to either go through Latvia, start in Latvia, or end in Latvia. It’s quite easy to get to as pretty much every airline in the Nordic-Baltic region does a stop-over in Riga, so you might as well give it up and stay a while!
  4. OMG the food: We ate terribly well and ate and drank to our hearts’ content. It’s that cheap, you should! Unlike Lithuania where we pretty much ate only rustic food, Latvia has a combination of both elegant and of a better class. More about that next week!
  5. Romance: Pretty much every European capital city has an “old” part of town and a “new” part of town. Cities taken over by the Soviet Union were able to hold onto the “traditional look” mainly due to the lack of interest in changing it, and a distinct lack of finance. However, these capital cities now have the last laugh as they still have the feel and look of centuries past, when royal or local aristocrats would probably chop people’s heads off, but would also walk the cobbled streets or ride across them and hunt for “spoil.”
  6. It’s small: Although Riga is the largest city in the Baltic State Region, it’s population is only a little over 600,000 inhabitants. I mean, the whole country is only about 2 million people! It’s small size means that it’s easy to meet people and to move around.
  7. Sausages: It seems to be a thing in Riga, so we had loads LOL!
  8. Communication: Most people speak English and have an endearing accent mix of American English, Swedish and Dutch. Oh, and they also have a warm sense of humour!
  9. The farmers’ market: An intriguing place where you could get the head of a pig, live fish swimming on the bare table, exotic vegetables, and tiny little cupcakes that didn’t cost more than 30 cents! More about that next week!
  10. Because Art: The best place in the world to find living pieces of Art Nouveau is indeed in Riga! 

TAKE ME THERE?

Our extremely funny walking tour guide in Latvia.
Our extremely funny walking tour guide in Latvia.

As you know, we were so lucky to be on a part-sponsorship of the largest international express route coach-bus operator in the Baltic region. An Estonian company called Lux Express, taking us through the Baltic Region by road from Germany, all the way through to Estonia, and back again!

In travelling from Berlin to Lithuania, we were on the cheaper arm of the coach-bus company called Simple Express but once we got to Latvia, we were switched to the more aptly-named Lux Express.

Lux Express.
Lux Express.

And was it luxury?

It was certainly different from any other coach bus company that I have either travelled with. And I’ve travelled with a lot LOL!

The seats were wider and bigger, there was a toilet on board and because there were fewer people, was fairly clean!

At the back of the bus was the even more luxurious V.I.P section. I had originally wanted to book that part of the coach-bus but it wasn’t to be as the reality is that most travellers would be at the front LOL! I nevertheless, had a peek. The V.I.P. section was curtained off for privacy just like a plane and there were one person seats rather than two. Each seat also had a small flat screen.

Bring your own blanket!
Bring your own blanket!

Even so, whichever part of the coach-bus you sat in was pretty awesome. We practically had the place to ourselves and could recline back quite well, there were night lights on the floor, individual screens on the seat with which you could watch films, comedy or TV series, listen to music, play games or go on-line. And this time the WiFi was fantastic, so if you had a smaller laptop rather than the huge one that I have, you could do as much work as you wanted!

The headphones were complimentary and there was also as much complimentary tea, coffee and hot chocolate as you liked. You just helped yourself as there was a huge drinks machine in the middle of the vehicle. And we did.

Very nice indeed!

The journey from Vilnius to Riga was only 4 hours and 15 minutes, so I watched part of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and a silly little film called “The Watch” although the  improvisation performed by Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill was brilliant!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Just me and my er...goat!
Just me and my er…goat!

Hardly!

Well, a little, but only because Riga is tiny. It was low season, the weather was wet and windy, and we all swarmed to the same place in order to have something to do however, the bars and restaurants had plenty of space. In fact, you only had to stand outside for a second when at least five (5) or six (6) various staff members would rush out to “help” you choose where to go!

WHAT IS RIGA LIKE?

We were only there for three (3) days but Riga definitely made an impression on me.

Unlike Lithuania, I didn’t find Latvia to be Eastern-European-like. Quite the contrary. At first glance, I found Riga utterly charming but then I haven’t lived there for five (5) years, unlike my crazy Irish friend Linda who became Latvia’s “most-wanted” on her utterly scathing but hilarious blog…

Riga is an Old Europe type of place very eager to welcome tourists and entertain you as every corner had some sort of bar, pub, or steak house! Having said that, they’re very easy to avoid if you’re not into that stream of entertainment, as every other place is of historical interest, art-inspired or a lovely cafe or restaurant. In fact Riga is stuffed with museums, art galleries, historical squares and places of worship!

I DON’T SPEAK LATVIAN.

It has really surprised me that in every Baltic State English is widely spoken however, if you speak Russian, you won’t be out-of-place. Having said that, a rather wonderful American-Russian blogger friend of mine was rather alarmingly, pretty much insulted, so watch out for that!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

If things get too bad, you won't be able to live here 'cos it's peasant history!
If things get too bad, you won’t be able to live here ‘cos it’s peasant history!

I don’t think so. It might be a country from “the other” Eastern Europe but you’re definitely not going to be living in a cave!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

There are plenty of hostels to be had.

I can’t give you any details but catering to the more budget conscious traveller is still fairly new and we even saw the very first Latvian hostel ever, and other moderately priced accommodation.

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

Hotel Justus in Riga, Latvia.

Hell yeah!

We stayed at a rather lovely four-star boutique hotel in the heart of the old town of Riga which I first saw on the website of a personal fitness trainer/sailor called Victor.

Our hotel was called Hotel Justus. Hotel Justus laid right within the architectural UNESCO protected area, was a Bishop’s residence in 1210, was part of a tavern in the 20th century and had just 48 rooms designed to embrace the architectural charm and historical delight of Riga. We were in the Family Suite which had two separate bedrooms and a joint bathroom.

Heeeeeaven!

It was nice to have the luxury of separate but joint bedrooms especially when you’re travelling and knick-knack is just thrown everywhere!

It was lovely just to have the space LOL!

Hotel Justus in Riga, Latvia.

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 Lithuania, I decided to book a small family Bed & Breakfast consisting of just seven (7) rooms, and located between the Old Town and a park. This B&B was called Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast and we were in the Family Room. This time around, it was time for a little more comfort.

Our stay at Hotel Justus was an indulgence.

When you book a room on-line, you can never be entirely sure what you’re going to get and can only hold your breath and cross your fingers.

I didn’t know what to expect in Latvia and was surprised at what we received.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" enjoying his "space."
“The Tall Young Gentleman” enjoying his “space.”

Our Family Suite consisted of two separate bedrooms, a hallway, and an en-suite bathroom. The Master Bedroom had a double bed, two (2) rather nice fancy armchairs, a writing-table, a large antique wardrobe, a mini-bar and a large-screen TV and AC unit.

The second (2nd) bedroom had a chaise longue that could be converted into a single bed, a writing desk and chair, a large antique wardrobe, a large-screen TV and an AC unit. “The Tall Young Gentleman” was in his own private little world, loved it and was pretty ecstatic!

We had an en-suite bathroom that was very clean and fitted out with hair and body wash items body lotion, and plenty of fluffy towels as well as free WiFi and a generous buffet breakfast of both Baltic and Nordic origin.

Breakfast in Latvia!
Breakfast in Latvia!

For breakfast, we had delicious cold cuts, a variety of sea-food, vegetables, sauces, pickles and cream, scrambled egg, sausages and bacon. As well as a wide variety of cereal, fruit, bread, cake, pastries, tea, coffee and juices.

All this from €140.00 per night in the Family Suite which for three (3) people would be €47.00 a pop!

Delightful!

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO LATVIA?

Gorgeous stuff!
Gorgeous stuff!

We only went for three (3) days so this was a sloooooow cultural family trip.

There is plenty to do in Riga. You can:

  • Go on a free walking tour. We went on Yellow Riga Free Tour.
  • Explore the urban history and architecture of Riga.
  • Take photographs of the Riga Castle.
  • Walk by the riverside and imagine living in the historic seat of power. It’s closed until 2016 but after that you’ll be able to take as many panoramic pictures as you want.
  • Check out some of the lovely churches and places of worship which are just bursting to be visited.
  • Go to the lovely Museum Riga Art Nouveau Museum and Centre.
  • Glide into the National Opera.
  • Wander around the Freedom Monument.

Down the side-streets in Riga, Latvia.

  • Stroll freely through the side streets.
  • Go to the oldest public museum in Latvia  – the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation.
  • Visit the Latvian National Museum of Art.
  • Take in all of the Art Nouveau.
  • Pay your respects in the Jewish Quarter.
  • Go people-watching inside the Zeppellin hangars of the Latvian Central Market.
  • Merely ramble along the cobbled historical streets.
  • Check out the various cafes, bars and restaurants for a quick bite and a few rounds of Latvian beer and vodka!
  • Go shopping.

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Riga is pretty small so that everywhere is walkable.

Taxis are cheap. A taxi from our hotel to the international coach-bus station cost a marvellous €5.00!

Full of joy & relief!
Full of joy & relief!

ANYTHING ELSE?

If you’re flying with a budget airline, be prepared for delays.

My husband was only on the trip for a week and would rather eat his own hat than travel back to Berlin by road.

On his lonesome.

He decided to fly back to Berlin with airBaltic!

It was an ordeal!

His plane had left Riga and then due to technical difficulties had to turn around and fly right back again!

Bearing in mind the horrible accident that took place a few weeks prior, I was obviously a little nervous and for the first time in my life – anxious and was all over Facebook and Twitter trying to get the latest flight updates. Thankfully, all went well and he arrived home safe and sound.

MY VERDICT:

Photo@ Graham

I really liked Riga.

It’s lovely. It’s old. It’s got history, Art and culture, and looks absolutely gorgeous. It’s not as cheap as Lithuania, but is certainly reasonably priced.

If you’re looking for the next best European city that’s safe, quiet, and away from the tourist throngs, you’ve found it.

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Absolutely!

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

Let’s do it!

Photo@ Avisionn Photo

For more information about coach-bus travel to Riga, please contact: Lux Express.

For more information about a four-star boutique hotel, please contact: Hotel Justus.

For more information about an independent free walking tour, please contact: Yellow Riga Free Tour.

This article is part-sponsored by Lux Express and we get a little discount on the hotel, but all opinions and the wonderful art-deco architecture that I was fascinated by, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Next week, I’ll be writing about the wonderful Latvian food and drink. Yummy!

After that, there will be posts on what we did in Tallinn, Estonia with the help of the Tallinn Card, what the view was like on the ferry crossing from Estonia to Finland with TALLINK SLJA LINE and what we thought about Helsinki in Finland!

I’ll be going to TBEX Europe (Travel Bloggers Exchange) an International Networking Conference, for the first time! It’ll be taking place in Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15.

Strictly Stand Up English Comedy Night will be taking place at the Quatsch Comedy Club on 29.04.15.

Eddie Izzard will be back in Germany and will be front-lining a killer international night of comedy at the Admirals Palast on 08.05.15.

The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. Anybody can apply!

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

If you’re not in Berlin right now, then come meet me in Spain!

April is going to be bright and sunny.

Watch this space!

Art Nouveau in Riga.
Art Nouveau in Riga.

Have you ever been to Latvia? Do you think Riga is gorgeous or all hype? Is Latvia in Eastern Europe?

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, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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