‘Just because I don’t drink coffee. ‘Doesn’t mean I can’t have coffee culture with hot chocolate, in Vienna!

‘Just because I don’t drink coffee. ‘Doesn’t mean I can’t have coffee culture with hot chocolate, in Vienna!

As you know, a few weeks ago, I went to Austria.

And of course, I didn’t just go to Austria, but I decided to visit Vienna!

Visiting Vienna is exciting!

Having a hotdog and beer, on a rainy day in Vienna, is more exciting than you think!

If you’re just joining, and obviously, you’re not, ‘cos you would be following my blog so that you can get weekly updates of what The British Berliner is up to, wouldn’t you?

Wouldn’t you!

However, let’s not quibble, just look to the side of the page and you’ll see a few ways which you can follow this wonderful blog. You can either click on You are following this blog or if you’re a WordPress nerd, just clink on the WordPress symbol followed by Following the British Berliner.

At the Vienna Opera Ball.
@ WienTourismus / Peter Rigaud/Couture Vivienne Westwood

Meanwhile, here’s what you missed:

Phew!

Make sure that you get travel insurance before you actually travel!

Now, to be frank, I hate being out of the loop, and I generally prefer to be in the centre of things, and that usually includes staying in the Old Town, or the trendier part of town!

And Vienna didn’t disappoint.

We stayed at a brilliant place called the 25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier, which I found with the help of the Vienna Tourist Board.

We stayed at a brilliant place in Vienna – the 25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier.
Photograph ©Frank Böster

Thanks so much everyone!

Book your hotel here!

Vienna is an imperial beauty. You’re welcome!

I’ve already written about the history of Vienna, but it really does bear to be repeated.

Vienna is an imperial beauty!

It’s the capital of Austria and the cultural. economic, and political centre of Austria.

With a population of just 1.8 million, Vienna is the second (2nd) largest German-speaking city in the world, after Berlin!

Vienna is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. In fact, Prague, Bratislava, and Budapest, are but a few cheap hours away!

TAKE ME THERE?

Myself looking glum at the airport. Leaving Vienna!
Photograph ©Frank Böster

As you know, I’m a great believer in train travel, but Vienna is rather far from Berlin, so we flew!

Our non-stop journey from Berlin Schoenefeld (SXF) to Vienna (VIE) took just 1 hour and 25 minutes via EasyJet, but of course, you can easily fly into Vienna International Airport, otherwise known as the Flughafen Wien, a destination flown by many major airlines, from many parts of the world!

If you’re flying from Europe, it usually takes between 1 to 2 hours, and is pretty much an easy ride!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

I didn’t find it crowded in Vienna. And neither did they!

It depends!

I didn’t find it to be necessarily so, as we went in March.

It’s been some time since I had last been to Vienna, so we booked a walking tour. But the tour guide didn’t show up!

We were all sort of hanging around, and (ahem), I’m quite bossy and so at one point, everyone thought that I was the tour guide.

If only!

Mind you, if we were in Berlin and that happened, I would happily take the tourists with me, and do the tour myself!

Me in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall & Street Art!

However, Vienna is a place that everyone would like to go to at least once, as it’s rather nice and serene!

Who wouldn’t want to visit?

‘Best to book early!

WHAT IS VIENNA LIKE?

Mozart & Vienna are adorable!

It’s adorable!

I’ve been there a few times over the years!

Having said that, the last time that I was in Vienna, “The Tall Young Gentleman” had just been born twelve (12) months prior!

My mother-in-law had decided to give me a weekend break, so I was in Vienna and literally, still breast-feeding!!!

A Viennese speciality of a glass of beer mixed with fanta orange, was not a very good idea!

I had tried a Viennese speciality of a glass of beer mixed with fanta orange. A sort of shandy.

It was a mistake.

We went to the Prater.

The Prater is one of Vienna’s most popular amusement park, and it’s star is the Giant Ferris Wheel!

The Prater is one of Vienna’s most popular leisure areas with a world-famous amusement park opened in 1766!

One of the highlights of the Prater is the Giant Ferris Wheel – a masterpiece of 19th century technology – and one of the largest wheels in the world!

Did we go on the Giant Ferris Wheel back in 2003?

Nope!

We went on the wheel called the Blumenrad, otherwise known as the Flower Wheel!
Photograph ©Frank Böster

We went on the wheel called the Blumenrad, otherwise known as the Flower Wheel!

The seats are shaped like huge teacups which were twirled around.

And around.

And around.

I turned a ghastly shade of green!

I turned a ghastly shade of green.

Let’s just say that it took a huge amount of effort for me to keep things together.

We got off the Blumenrad, and I vomited the wheat beer and fanta orange concoction.

Everywhere!

We went on the Blumenrad / Flower Wheel, but we really should have gone on the Giant Ferris Wheel instead!
Photograph ©Frank Böster

I’ve never had a mixed beer since!

I DON’T SPEAK AUSTRIAN GERMAN or GERMAN AT ALL.

Singing will do just as well!
©WienTourismus Lukas Beck: Vienna Boys’ Choir

Not. A. Problem.

Lots of people speak English. Or High German, otherwise known as Hochdeutsche!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

Living in a hut, is not at all the done thing. In Vienna!

Ha! Ha! Not unless you want to!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

If you’re on a budget in Vienna. Let them eat cake!

I’ll be honest with you. Vienna isn’t known as a cheap destination.

Quite the opposite in fact!

I can’t give you any details but for the more budget conscious traveller, there are plenty of hostels and other moderately priced accommodation to be had. Book ahead to get good prices.

Book your hotel here!

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

I got into contact with a quirky boutique hotel group called 25 Hours Hotels!

Certainly!

You know how much I like boutique  or art design hotels.

Well, on doing some research, I got into contact with a quirky boutique hotel group called 25hours Hotels.

The 25hours Hotels is a young hotel concept which seeks contemporary answers to the requirements of an urban, cosmopolitan clientele, boasting an unconventional mix of contemporary services, coupled with dynamism, surprise and a touch of adventure!

The 25hours brand is currently focused on Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

We went to the 25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier.

The 25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier, is an art design circus-themed boutique hotel!

Just like the hotel in Amsterdam Zaandam, the 25hours Hotels’ quirkiness is plain to see.

Practically every single room had some sort of association with the circus!

And with one of the hotel motto’s being – We Are All Mad Here – is it any wonder that it was pretty much my type of place!

And surely, there wouldn’t be any looking at the ceiling in boredom, here!

We Are All Mad Here!
The 25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier.
©Stephan Lemke for 25hours Hotels

As we were in Vienna to celebrate my husband – The Music Producers’ – birthday, we were upgraded to one of the xl rooms, with a colourful circus theme on the wall!

The room was huge!

It also had a flat screen TV, a free-standing closet place to hang up clothes with long shelves, an imac workstation writing table, a cool vintage sound system bluetooth speaker, an iPod docking station, some leather pouffles, a private terrace with a wooden garden table and chairs, and lots of plug outlets.

My husband was very pleased!

We were upgraded to one of the xl rooms, with a colourful circus theme on the wall!

There was a small fridge, and an extra toilet, so that I could do my make up in peace. Yay!

The bathroom was a sort of internal interior space with a huge sink, a really nice rainshower compartment that had a glass panel, which also had a curtain that could be drawn.

If you so wished!

I very much liked the orange and lemon infused sustainable organic bath gels, shampoo, conditioner and body moisturiser, which all had hilarious save-the-environment instructions on the bottles! And at the end of a long day were awfully welcoming, as well as plenty of fluffy towels, and free hi-speed WiFi!

I did miss my fluffy dressing gowns and fluffy slippers though!

‘Notice the save-the-environment inscription on the bottle at the 25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier!
©Stephan Lemke for 25hours Hotels

The 25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier also had a “mermaid’s cave” which consisted of a sauna, a spa centre, and fitness equipment, free of charge to guests.

You could also have access to a free mini car and bike rental, as well as free bottled water and towels, if you wanted to go jogging!

The view on the rooftop bar of the 25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier, is pretty amazing!
©Stephan Lemke for 25hours Hotels

The lobby was very nice with comfy leather sofas, crisp daily newspapers and glossy magazines. There was also a hotel food truck in the garden.

Being that the hotel is actually located in the Museum Quartier part of the city, the view on the rooftop bar, was pretty amazing!

Breakfast in Vienna was quite marvellous!

For breakfast, we had marvellous cold cuts, bacon, sausages, eggs, and baked beans, a variety of sea-food, vegetables, sauces, and cream. As well as a wide stock of cereal, fruit, cake, pastries, pots of tea, coffee local champagne, and juices.

They also had a wonderful array of crunchy Germanic and French home-made bread, and a variety of jams and pickles! Yum!

It was very nice indeed!

The Music Producer helping himself to morning refreshment, at the 25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier.

The 25hours Hotel at MuseumsQuartier (depending on the room), can be booked from €97.00 per night, which for two (2) people would be €48.50 a pop, and an absolute Vienna bargain!

The buffet breakfast is €21.00 per person. Children up to 6 years old are free of charge. Children from 7 to 11 years old get a 50% discount. Guests can also buy a Grab & Go breakfast from the lobby for €7.00 per person.

Book your hotel here!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Take the tram in Vienna!

Transport in Vienna is excellent.

The trams and horses are romantic, and the trains are easy to use, and very efficient.

You can also walk around quite easily, as Vienna is pretty small!

Once again, don’t forget to buy a public transport Vienna card. However, for ease of transport and discounts to attractions, museums, and restaurants, we used the Vienna City Card for 72 hours. Tickets can be bought everywhere that tourists go to, tourist information  points, and on-line!

However, just like in Berlin, and in many European cities, there are no barriers, and we all want to keep it that way, so please buy your ticket!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Apple strudel is a very important part of Viennese coffee culture!

Apple strudel is king!

MY VERDICT:

Vienna Tourist Board. Now. Forever.

I absolutely adore Vienna.

It’s classy.

It’s European.

It’s got art and culture and has a vibrant history.

And even though Vienna is considered to be expensive. It’s not as expensive as you think!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

‘Just because I don’t drink coffee. ‘Doesn’t mean I can’t have coffee culture with hot chocolate, in Vienna!

You bet!

Vienna is charming.

I really can’t wait to visit again.

Let’s do it!

JUST BECAUSE I DON’T DRINK COFFEE. ‘DOESN’T MEAN I CAN’T HAVE COFFEE CULTURE WITH HOT CHOCOLATE, IN VIENNA!

‘Just because I don’t drink coffee. ‘Doesn’t mean I can’t have coffee culture with hot chocolate, in Vienna!

This article is part – sponsored by the Vienna Tourist Board and I received a press discount from the 25 Hours Hotels but all opinions and the wonderful hot chocolate and delightful Austrian food I happily consumed, are my very own! Thanks so much!

It’s almost Easter!

In April & May, I’ll be visiting Croatia, Sweden & Finland!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you won’t get any Easter eggs!

'Just because I don't drink coffee. 'Doesn't mean I can't have coffee culture with hot chocolate, in Vienna!
‘Just because I don’t drink coffee. ‘Doesn’t mean I can’t have coffee culture with hot chocolate, in Vienna!

Watch this space!

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

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

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

‘Just because I don’t drink coffee. ‘Doesn’t mean I can’t have coffee culture with hot chocolate, in Vienna!

Are you a coffee drinker? Or are you like me, a person who can’t bear the sight of it! Spill the beans!

See you in Berlin.

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

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

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I’m really going to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia & Finland, so don’t look at me like that. I’m not mad!

As lovely as in Prague!
As lovely as in Prague!

That time is soon approaching when I will be on the road again.

It’s so exciting!

You know, thinking about where to go on the map, planning it and then checking it’s still possible the way you thought it was.

Of course, it’s possible you say.

Really?

Did you know that if you wanted to get to parts of Wales from other parts of Wales using public transport, the easiest way, would be to go back into England or take the ferry coming from Ireland?!

I know this, because we’ve done this!

VB34130770We ended up flying into Bristol. In England.

From Berlin. In Germany.

Spending a night. In Bristol. In England.

And then taking a train from Bristol. In England.

To Cardiff. In Wales.

And then picking up a car.

In Wales.

One day, I might just tell you the full story……..!

The Welsh flag on Conwy Castle, Wales.
The Welsh flag on Conwy Castle, Wales.

As you might have noticed unless we’re in America or the backwaters of the Welsh countryside, we don’t tend to use the car.

  • Because I don’t drive. What! Shock & Awe!?$§!! Yeah, I bought a car when I was living in London, and used all my friends as my own personal driver. What can I say? I’m fancy!
  • My husband – The Music Producer – doesn’t really like driving unless he has to. And in America, his medieval hometown of Osnabrück, in Wales. He had to. Alone!
  • I like flying.
  • I love the train.
  • I’m one of those freaks who loves long-distance coach-bus journeys ‘cos I can get comfortable, cross my legs, and read!
  • I love reading.
  • I like looking through the window and watching the countries and landscapes change. You should see the changes from Germany to Holland, Belgium & France. It’s so obvious that you’re in a totally different country.
  • I’m lazy.
  • Using public transport is far better for the environment than using a car.
  • The good old honest truth. Well, you can take as much luggage as you like and you don’t really have to worry about how much it weighs!
Lux Express.
Lux Express.

My husband gulped a bit and his lovely green eyes got even greener when I told him that not only were we going to the “other” Eastern Europe otherwise known as The Baltics, but we were going by long-distance coach-bus from country to country!

I’m a determined woman and normally get what I want so with the part-sponsorship of the largest international express route coach operator in the Baltic region, an Estonian company called Lux Express, we are indeed going through the Baltic Region by road from Germany, all the way through to Estonia, and back again!

Sailing away! Photo @AS Tallink Grupp
Sailing away!
Photo @AS Tallink Grupp

We are also going to be taking to the waters by sailing across to Finland, with the sponsorship of TALLINK SLJA LINE. TALLINK is an Estonian shipping company currently operating Baltic Sea cruise ferries and ships from Estonia to Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Germany. We will be sailing with them from Estonia to Finland and back to Estonia.

However, I love my husband, and he’s not standing for total madness so while “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I saunter on, he’s flying back after a week with airBaltic!

In Kurdistan at the ITB 2015.
In Kurdistan at the ITB 2015.

I have been to 48 countries with 4 new countries coming up. Many of these countries I have been to over and over again.

Why?

Simply because I like them.

I’m strong-minded. Just because I’ve been there doesn’t mean that I can’t go back there again.

Returning to Rokytnice nad Jizerou in the Czech Republic.  Because I'm worth it!
Returning to Rokytnice nad Jizerou in the Czech Republic. Because I’m worth it!

I do go back.

Again and again.

It’s never ever boring. Only different.

And for me, travelling is my pleasure not my work. My blog represents the business of me – The British Berliner – but everything I do and everywhere I go, is for my own and complete and utter pleasure!

Remember how I told you a fortnight ago that this blog was about ME.

It is.

Therefore, if I choose to go to Milan although I’ve been there five (5) times before, it’s because I want to.

I love Italy by the way.

A yummy shrimp roll from #WeAreInPuglia!
A yummy shrimp roll from #WeAreInPuglia!

Same goes with the way I travel.

Sure, I could probably fly for €50.00, but where’s the fun and adventure in that?

Live a little!

As much as I love travelling to my favourite regions of the world, one of the most interesting things about the Baltic Region is that I’ve never been there before. It’s going to be nice to go to a country with my family that is as new to them as it is as new to me.

Yikes!

So let’s have a closer look at the four (4) lovely countries that I’m going to.

WHY THE BALTICS?

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

The Baltic States might be small in landmass but the countries are considered to be old European in look, rich culture, enchanting history, old tradition. In fact, quite charming! In the last 6 years alone Vilnius, Riga & Tallinn were proudly inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the wonder that is their unique architecture in their “old towns” and also as 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 not only in 2009 and 2011, but also in 2014!

In 2015, it will be in Plzen, a city in one of my favourite countries, the Czech Republic.

LITHUANIA

©2012-2015 onelung
©2012-2015 onelung

Let’s be honest. How many of you have ever heard of Lithuania?

Thought so!

I’ll try my best to explain some history:

Lithuania is in the European Union and was part of the EU Enlargement in 2004, but is still a country that has yet to be discovered. It’s official name is the Republic of Lithuania.

Europe is fantastically diverse and enormously blended as a result, both the Lithuanians and Latvians are Balts by ethnic and linguistic origin and although separate independent countries, have closely related languages. Not only that, but Lithuania’s former capital was called Trakai and was the religious centre of the Lithuanian Karaites who were of Turkish origin, but also happened to be Jewish.

Vakaras-Vilniaus-senamiestyjeLithuania was an independent state as far back as the 13th century, joined into a union with Poland in the 14th century, became a part of Prussia in the 18th century, forcibly became a part of the former USSR in 1940, established re-independence in 1991, and became both a member of NATO and the EU in 2004.

Phew!

The European Flag.
The European Flag.

It’s a small country with less than 3 million people living there and on the 1st January, 2015, became the 19th EU member state to adopt the Euro as its national currency.

We’re proud of Lithuania!

it’s still early days and if you’re in the Lithuanian countryside, it’s likely that they weren’t invited to the ceremony so just in case: 1 Lithuanian Litas (LTL) is worth about €0.29 or $0.31!

VILNIUS

VilniusHomeVilnius is the capital of Lithuania, one of the largest old cities in Europe, and is covered by countless churches. In fact, 65! It might have a population of only just half a million people, but all that history makes up for it!

Vilnius is a medieval cosmopolitan city known as “the Jerusalem of Lithuania” because of its strong Jewish past until WWII, “Little Rome” and “North Athens.” It’s also a treasure-trove of Baroque craftsmanship and a valuable and historical site of not only Baroque, but also Gothic, Renaissance, and other architectural styles.

I can’t tell you everything that we’re going to do as we’re not there yet, are we?

Laughing, smiling, and eating in Bangkok.
Laughing, smiling, and eating in Bangkok.

All I can tell you is that we’re absolutely going to go on a walking tour to get our bearings as you know that I love them so much having gone on a walking tour in Edinburgh, a walking tour in London, a walking tour in Bangkok, and an alternative walking tour in Berlin!

I’m thinking of going with the Vilnius With Locals walking tour. It’s a free walking tour and you tip whatever you think it is worth.

We’re only going to be there for three (3) days so this will be a sloooooow cultural family trip. We’ll check out some of the lovely churches and places of worship which are just bursting to be visited, we’ll pay our respects in the Jewish Quarter, we’ll ramble along the cobbled historical streets, and we’ll be trying out and tasting not only the tasteful Lithuanian cuisine but also checking out the Lithuanian soup, dumplings, and dessert, as well as Lithuanian beer and vodka!

VilniusHome18We’ll be staying at a small family Bed and Breakfast consisting of just seven (7) rooms, and located between the Old Town and a park. This B&B is called Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast and we’ll be in the Family Room.

Most importantly, there’ll be free WiFi, space to dump all our stuff after our long weary journey, and free breakfast. Everything a family with a young teenager needs!

Yipee!

LATVIA

Latvia.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 like the Baltic Sea and I’ve written about it before albeit from the Polish side!

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!

lncc15_song_and_dance_festival2013_latvian_national_centre_for_culturexHere’s some history:

Although under various forms of foreign rule and invasion from the 13th to the 20th century, the Latvian people were able to hold onto their history and identity via their own unique language and musical traditions. The Republic of Latvia came into existence in 1918 but due to the WWII and the forcible incorporation into the then USSR, lost its independence. The famous Singing Revolutions of the Latvian people (a bit like the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music) helped to motivate the people and independence was once again declared in 1991. Latvia became a member of NATO and the EU in 2004, was declared a “high income” country, and the Latvian lats replaced with the Euro as its national currency on the 1st of January, 2014.

RIGA

A European Capital of Culture.
A European Capital of Culture.

We will be going to Riga which is the capital city, the largest city in the Baltic State Region, and also not only on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its unique architecture in the “old town,” but was also 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, in 2014!

You might not have ever heard of Latvia, but are you sure you haven’t heard or seen pictures of Riga?

institute_of_latvia_aleksandrs_kendenkovsRiga is an elegant old European town nourished by Russian glamour and elegant Art Nouveau boulevards! It’s 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.

Do you recognise Riga now?

Art Nouveau in Riga.
Art Nouveau in Riga.

We’ll only be in Riga for three (3) days and thereafter, The Music Producer will depart and fly back to Berlin so that “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I will continue the rest of our Baltic cultural adventure together. There’s a lot to see in Riga so we’ll probably go on another walking tour such as the Yellow Riga Free Tour. I understand that it’s supported by the European Community programme Youth in Action, so why not. Right!? It’s an alternative free walking tour and goes outside the Old Town. Tip whatever you think it’s worth.

Of course, we’ll also check out the lovely Old Town itself. It looks gorgeous and perhaps also the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum. I quite like the sound of learning about the history and cultural background of a people. The rambling along the cobbled historical streets continues and of course, we’ll be trying out and tasting rustic Latvian soup, chops, and cheese topped off with Latvian beer, vodka and Riga Black Balsam!

History at Hotel Justus.
History at Hotel Justus.

We will be staying at a four-star boutique hotel in the heart of the old town of Riga. The hotel is called Hotel Justus. Hotel Justus lies right within the architectural UNESCO protected area, was a Bishop’s residence in 1210, was part of a tavern in the 20th century and has just 48 rooms designed to embrace the architectural charm and historical delight of Riga. We’ll be in the Family Suite which will have two separate bedrooms and a joint bathroom.

You cannot believe how nice it is to sometimes have separate but joint bedrooms when your child is still young, but very tall. In Poland, our B&B was lovely and quaint but my sons’ arms and legs were all over the place on our East European double bed, so I spent most of our holiday sleeping on the floor!

"The Tall Young Gentleman"
“The Tall Young Gentleman”

You cannot believe how many times we have tried to explain that even though he is a child, he isn’t a child-child. And in Asia, explaining proved to be too difficult so we just said he was a young adult since he was taller than most grown up men, and in Hong Kong, so was I LOL! We either booked a superior room in Bangkok, a wooden chalet in Chiang Mai, or went all out and rented a house in Bali.

Our son was 13 years old just last Sunday but looks like a 15 year old boy! The photograph above was taken just two years ago!

Once again, the most important factor for a couple and a young teenager is location (we’re right in the UNESCO centre.) Yay! History will come alive ‘cos we’ll be sleeping in it! Free WiFi, a flat screen TV, and a generous breakfast.

I’m pretty ecstatic!

Pelmeni served with sour cream in Latvia.
Pelmeni served with sour cream in Latvia.

This article is part-sponsored by Lux Express and TALLINK SLJA LINE, and the Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau. We received a 72 hour complimentary Tallinn Card  and we get a little discount on the hotels, but all opinions and the delicious food and drink that I thoroughly consumed, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

I’m going to be travelling to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, AND Finland!

I’ll tell you all about what we’re going to be doing in Riga in Latvia 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 the plans are for Helsinki in Finland, in the coming weeks.

International Games Week Berlin 2015 is a leading cross-industry communication and networking platform for games businesss, development and culture, and will be taking place between April 21-26, 2015.

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 in April, I haven’t a clue where else you’re going to be!

April is going to be refreshing.

Watch this space! Riga-Black-Balsam-6Have you ever been to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia & Finland? Do you want to go to Vilnius or Riga? Would you be all daring and take a long-distance bus or coach?

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

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

I’m going to the Baltic Region. You know, the “other” Eastern Europe!

At the ITB Berlin.
At the ITB Berlin.

So last week, I wrote a bit of a controversial post about what it is to be a blogger.

Any regrets?

Absolutely, none at all!

I like pushing buttons and gong to places unknown, which leads me to the next question?

What is this blog about? You know THIS blog. The blog called The British Berliner.

MY Blog.

Victoria looking quite model-like, in a Berlin summer, 2014.
Victoria looking quite model-like, in a Berlin summer, 2014.

Well, to put it in a nutshell. It’s about me.

There. I said it.

I write this because an experienced blogger recently asked me (rather nicely I might add) whether last weeks’ post was wavering away from what this blog is about.

That got me thinking?

So let’s go back a bit. What is this blog about? Well according to the About Me page. This blog was about being British in Berlin. And that is true but isn’t exactly accurate and since I started this blog in October 2013. Yay! This blog has developed a life of its own.

God Save the Queen in Cool Britannia!
God Save the Queen in Cool Britannia!

As a result, The British Berliner is now a lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, travels around the world, AND being British in Berlin.

It’s about what I do in normal every day life and where I go, and one of the things that contributed to that change was the ITB.

I learnt a lot about how to prepare to go to the biggest travel trade fair in the world, back in 2014. I mean, for goodness sake, I hadn’t even known what Twitter was back then. Thank goodness there was a workshop on it hosted by the European Vice-President, and let me tell you, I learnt pretty quickly so that by the end of the week, my Twitter account was up and running.

Yep! My Twitter account is only one (1) year old!

A WYSE Travel Confederation lecture at the ITB. If you look closely, you can see the back of my head and my red handbag on the side-corner!
A WYSE Travel Confederation lecture at the ITB.
If you look closely, you can see the back of my head and my red handbag on the side-corner!

I write this because before going to the ITB, I had never ever met a blogger in real life! Oh yes, I was fully engaged in the virtual world but I had never met anyone.

In 2014, I met loads of people so before I delve into my next travel adventure of 2015, I would just like to acknowledge and thank all the bloggers or social media professionals that I have actually met since the ITB in March 2014! Since there’s a long list of people, please forgive me if I leave you out.

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

I’ve met:

  • Maja Benke of Low Budget Travel. She was lovely and actually the first blogger that I had ever met! I met her at the pre-ITB Travel Massive party in 2014, and kept on bumping into her!
  • Anula Galewska is the Chapter Leader of Travel Massive Berlin. She’s a great girl and I was very interested in meeting her as she is also the marketing person for ExploRussia as I was, and am still, interested in going to Russia via the Trans Siberian train!
  • Adam Groffman of Travels of Adam is a very sweet American guy based in Berlin and apart from the fact that we constantly bump into each other all over town, every now and again we go for cocktails and gossip!

  • Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate. I met Kate an hour after I returned from our trip to Poland. I knew that she was in Germany, and I had reached out to her that if she were ever in Berlin, to give me a buzz. She did! She’s a cool industrious girl. Even more petite than I am LOL! She was really nice and gave me some blogging tips and a blog leg up. She still does!
  • Kash Bhattacharya of the Budget Traveller. I met Kash the same time that I met Kate. He’s a fellow Brit and a tiny bear of a guy with hugs and jolly laughter for all, but behind the merry exterior is a man with hard-core ideas and a pair of high-flying shoulders! A great guy.
  • Ciki of CC Food Travel. I met Ciki from Malaysia in Berlin along with Kate and Kash. She’s a beautiful girl with a huge sense of humour, and delicious photographs of exquisite food. She’s a real pro. and we still send each other hilarious tweets. I can’t wait to visit her country anytime soon!
  • Mario Cacciottolo of Someone Once Told Me. Mario wasn’t a blogger in the strict sense of the world but a British photographer. He was embarking on a world tour of quotes from random people and asked if I would participate. I sure did! I also showed a bunch of international bloggers where anyone could participate in outdoor tango dancing on the Berlin river-side for absolute no money at all! Oh, and also having great beers whilst pretending to be on a beach. Good Times!
  • Kemkem of the Next Bite of Life. Kemkem is an American married to an Italian. We met as she reached out to me because she and her husband were thinking of perhaps emmigrating to Berlin from Malta. I offered to meet up and show her around and invited them to the Carnival of Cultures or Karneval der Kulturen. They opted to move to Spain instead, but we remain friends.
  • Dale & Franca of Anglo Italian Follow Us. They are an Anglo-Italian couple whom I met at a local bloggers meet-up one morning. They mainly write about slow vegan travel.

At ITB Berlin.

At the ITB a fortnight (two weeks) ago, I met:

  • Melvin Böcher, the founder of Travel Dudes. He’s a young German guy with a crazy hairdo. We met virtually when he asked whether I would like to join Travel Dudes and write something. I wrote about how to order a pint at an English pub. We met for the very first time at the ITB. I’m thinking of interviewing him!
  • D. J. Yabis of Dream Euro Trip is a flamboyant stylish guy from The Philippines, living in Cologne. He was a great laugh and so bitchy and funny. A great new friend to have LOL!
  • Raphael Alexander of A Journey of Wonders is a writer/photographer from Mexico. I met him at the Travel Massive party and it wasn’t that difficult to spot him LOL. He’s going places and I like his blogstyle!
  • Keith Jenkins of the Velvet Escape. Keith is a quiet unassuming man but a man with brains. He is the founder of iambassador and such projects as Blogville.
A yummy shrimp roll from #WeAreInPuglia!
A yummy shrimp roll from #WeAreInPuglia!
  • The lovely Stefania Albanese, of #WeAreInPuglia. She and her team were so kind and friendly and encouraged me to make Focaccia and not only that, but stuffed my bag with the bread dough, Italian bread sticks called Taralli, olive oil from Puglia, and a huge bottle of red Italian wine!
  • Christina Nagel-Gasch of Mrs Berry. When I was originally looking for information about the ITB last year, this was the only place that I found it. In German! This year, we found ourselves waiting for the same Dresden contact and as soon as I heard her name, I just wanted to hug her. Oh, and I also gate-crashed a bloggers event that she was hosting, but nobody seemed to mind LOL!
  • Carly Hulls of Austrian Adaptation. Carly is a fun-loving Australian expat who lives in the Sound of Music Hills of Austria. We met at the ITB and with jolly glasses of wine, we bonded rather well. I can’t wait to see her again somewhere LOL!
  • Natasha Semmence of Eat Shoot Travel – ESST. I met Natasha ‘cos she followed me while I was looking for space to hang my coat in the press room. She’s a British photographer, a close mate of Kash, and a very good person to have a natter with.
  • Astrid Zand and the lovely ITB press and marketing team. Again, they were absolutely fantastic and I even got to meet and hang out with them at the Press /Editorial Office. A great bunch of people!
  • And lastly, Lee. A. Evans. Lee is the President of Guides Berlin – the official Berlin Guide Federation – and I’ve known Lee personally for probably three (3) years now, well before blogging was ever part of my répertoire. Lee and I are both Committee Members of the Boy Scouts of America – Troop 46 – in Berlin. One of my expat activities even though I’m British LOL!
Kash & I at a bloggers after-ITB party!
Kash & I at a bloggers after-ITB party!

People may say that bloggers are introverts.

I disagree.

Most of the ones that I’ve met can talk the hind leg off a donkey and are as extroverted as they come. Myself included LOL!

And so, back to the topic of this week.

Drum roll pleeeeease!

A map of the Baltic Sea.
A map of the Baltic Sea.

THE BRITISH BERLINER IS GOING TO THE BALTIC REGION. YAY!

 

WHERE AM I GOING?

All the details are not yet 100% cut and dried, but I’m going to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia & Finland.

Lithuania.
Lithuania.

LITHUANIA:

Lithuania is the oldest state of the Baltic countries and according to Lonely Planet, was named third (3rd) in the top 10 countries to visit in 2015. If Lonely Planet have pinpointed Lithuania as the next trend, I’m in good company LOL! I will be going to Vilnius which is the capital city. The city has been known as “the Jerusalem of Lithuania” because of its strong Jewish past until WWII. Vilnius has also been known as “Little Rome” and “North Athens” and is a treasure-trove of Baroque craftsmanship.

I can’t wait to go there.

This will be a cultural family trip so we’ll be staying at a small family Bed and Breakfast consisting of just seven (7) rooms, and located between the Old Town and a park. This B&B is called Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast.

Latvia.
Latvia.

LATVIA:

Latvia is a small economy based in between Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia and Russia! It is known as the Pearl of the Baltic States and is on the shores of the Baltic Sea. We will be going to Riga which is the capital city, the largest city in the Baltic State Region, and also listed as historical significant by UNESCO.

Due to other engagements, The Music Producer will only be travelling with us for a week and will be flying back to Berlin. As a result, “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I will continue the rest of our Baltic cultural adventure together.

We will be staying at a four-star boutique hotel in the heart of the old town of Riga. The hotel
is called Hotel Justus.
The Medieval Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia.
The Medieval Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia.

ESTONIA:

Estonia, officially called the Republic of Estonia, is a country surrounded by Finland, Latvia, and Russia. It is considered one (1) of the smallest countries in the European Union, as it only  has a country-wide population of 1.3 million people!

We will be going to Tallinn which is the capital city. An advanced, highly economic country, its history with Finland is tightly connected, coming from an ancient type of Finnish people!

We will be staying at the oldest hotel in Estonia, the luxury 5-star boutique hotel – The Hotel St. Petersbourg and on our return back from Finland, we will also be staying at the 4-star charming My City Hotel.

Visit Finland.

FINLAND:

Full of interesting contrast such as the Midnight Sun and days full of darkness in Winter, over two-thirds of the world’s people who experience the Midnight Sun, actually live in Finland! Wow! In fact, in the most Northern part of Finland, the sunlight can be present for a consecutive number of over 70 days!

I would like to go to Lapland one of these days, but for this journey, we’ll be going to the very cultural city of Helsinki which is the capital, and also has a 100 km long shoreline and around 300 islands!

We will be staying at the very artistically designed GLO Hotel Art which is an exclusive, charming lifestyle hotel built around a century-old Art Nouveau castle, located in the heart of the Helsinki Design District.

Very exciting!

WHY THE BALTIC STATE REGION?

shutterstock-92810047-zob

As of now, the region above has not really been discovered by tourists and travellers. I mean, have you ever heard of Latvia? What about Lithuania? And to be honest, we all know of Finland, but how many of us have actually been there?

Exactly!

These countries are based in Europe and their capital cities have stories of richness, history and grandeur unspoilt by the full-board package set and the larger louts of stag and hen nights. They are sparsely populated, and not your typical cheap and friendly destination. As a matter of fact prices in Finland border on the insane and Estonia has prices that would make your hair stand up, although still considered to be “budget” destinations.

I want to experience these countries for myself.

That’s why!

HOW AM I TRAVELLING?

The Lux Express. And free WIFI!
The Lux Express.
And free WIFI!

We will be on a part-sponsorship with Lux Express.

The Lux Express Group is the largest international express route coach operator in the Baltic region with its head-office based in Estonia. It offers frequent connections to the Baltic States, and to parts of Russia such as St. Petersburg, Moscow and Minsk. ‘Such a shame that we don’t have the time to nip into St. Petersburg as there is a legal way that you can go to Russia for 24 or 72 hours visa-free, as long as you arrive by ship and pre-organise your hotel or sight-seeing activities!

The next time I’m in Finland or Estonia, I’m going to do just that, as I’m desperate to go to Russia. Even for a day but hopefully, for much longer LOL!

We will be travelling with the Lux Express Group from Berlin to Estonia and back again!

HOW AM I GOING TO CROSS THE SEA INTO FINLAND?

Sailing away! Photo @AS Tallink Grupp
Sailing away!
Photo @AS Tallink Grupp

We will be on a sponsorship deal with TALLINK SLJA LINE.

TALLINK is an Estonian shipping company currently operating Baltic Sea cruise ferries and ships from Estonia to Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Germany. We will be sailing with them from Estonia to Finland and back to Estonia. In fact, the E-commerce Manger offered us a complimentary sailing to Sweden but in this trip, I had already fixed the itinerary and moreover, I wanted to go via overland. However, watch this space for a future visit to Sweden, Finland, Latvia, and Estonia!

It’s going to be quite a trip!

Food Glorious Food!
Food Glorious Food!

This article is part-sponsored by Lux Express and TALLINK SLJA LINE, and we get a little discount on the hotels, but all opinions and the exquisite shrimps that I ate, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be writing about the British Shorts Film Festival 2015.

In the next few months, I’ll be travelling to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland.

I’ll also be going to TBEX (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.

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 in March, you’ve lost your way!

March is going to be warming up.

Watch this space!

Pelmeni, a type of dumpling served with sour cream in Latvia.
Pelmeni, a type of dumpling served with sour cream in Latvia.

Have you ever been to the Baltic States? Have you ever heard of Lithuania or Latvia?

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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