How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

So a fortnight (two weeks) ago, I told you about how many countries that I travelled to in 2016. And if you’re just joining us, it was 10!

I also told you how I did it, and the plans that I have for 2017. 

In 2016, I’ll be travelling to thirteen (13) countries.

Most of them will be in Europe, and plenty of them, I’ll be reaching by train!

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

But why?

Why the train?

Why not fly?

Why not fly?
Why not fly?

Well, to Russia, I’m thinking strongly of taking some sort of ship or cruise, and to England and Ireland, perhaps flying would be quicker….!

And then again. Perhaps not!

But the fact remains.

I live in Berlin.

In Germany.

Germany - my adopted country!
Germany – my adopted country!

And Germany is right in the center of Europe.

It has airports, train stations, bus stations, bicycle stations, cars and every possible means of transport.

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure, and many a time, the adventure is in the getting there rather than the destination itself!

Zoooooop! Don't say it! @eatdrinkandrun.com
Zoooooop! Don’t say it!
@eatdrinkandrun.com

And let’s not forget the hassle, long queues and stringent baggage requirements that airlines require these days. Quite frankly, for a 1.5 hour flight you’re looking at arriving the airport (if flying to the UK) at least 2 hours before, if flying inter-continental, at least 3 hours. Not to talk of actually getting to the airport itself!

Luckily for me, Berlin has excellent local public transport that is cheap, efficient, clean, and reliable. I can’t say the same if you’re trying to get to London Heathrow, which is the busiest airport in the world. And equally as complicated, if you don’t know your way around London.

Me!
Me!

Being that I live in Berlin, makes it an extremely easy way to travel.

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

Is it any wonder that one of my favourite forms of transport is the train!

WHY TRAVEL BY TRAIN IN EUROPE?

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

There are many reasons why travelling by train in Europe is a most excellent idea, here are some below:

  • It’s cheap:
Travelling by train is a cheap as a bunch of locally grown flowers!
Travelling by train is a cheap as a bunch of locally grown flowers!

I bought a twelve-hour (12) direct train ticket from Berlin to Budapest. In first class for €69.00. Second class was just €10.00 cheaper at €59.00! I couldn’t believe it , so I bought it! My child was free of charge!

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

A five (5) hour train journey ticket (second class) to travel from Prague to Berlin in August, was just €29.00! My child cost nothing at all!

Over the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland. ©Michaa Ludwiczak / Getty
Over the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland.
©Michaa Ludwiczak / Getty

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

As a matter of fact, our return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was a mere €58.00! And even though we actually missed our connection on the way home, and had to buy another ticket…it was still a sweet deal!

  • Kids travel for free:
Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!
Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!

Throughout last summer, I took an international train every weekend, and the price for our son – The Tall Young Gentleman was nothing at all!

His fare was completely and utterly free.

Yep!

Free of charge.

Nada!

Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!
Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!

In Germany, children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their parents, grandparents, or relatives, travel on the German Rail, otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn (DB), train for free!

Note that if you book Spar Preis Europa trains with the German Rail on this version, your children will be free of charge too!

Other European countries do the same and either have free transport for children, or special prices for families too.

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

On our last visit to the UK, we bought an Advance Single train ticket – via the National Rail – from Manchester Oxford Road to a station in Cheshire. Our adult tickets for a 30 minute inter-city train were £3.00 each, and £1.50 for our child. Our Express Train tickets from Manchester Airport to Manchester Oxford Road (in the city) were just £5.00 each per adult, and £2.50 for our child.

  • Delays are minimal and compensated:
The German Rail / Deutsche Bahn train leaving Berlin.
The German Rail / Deutsche Bahn train leaving Berlin.

When travelling by European train, there is very little fuss to it, and far fewer delays than flying

In fact, European Regulation (EC) 1371/2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations (2009), state that passengers are entitled to standardised rights in the rail sector in Germany and in Europe.

If there are delays of at least sixty (60) minutes or more, you are entitled to compensation, and if you were to take a taxi, or another mode of transport up to €80.00, you could have that refunded too. Make sure you get the correct documentation at either the train station concerned, from another station, or from the train staff!

  • Luggage:
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

Train travel means that there is plenty of room for your luggage. And if you wished to take the kitchen sink with you (within reason), you probably could. No need to worry about how heavy your luggage would be and how much. There is relatively little or no fuss. In many cases, the railway staff would even help you carry your bags!

No when was the last time that you saw airport staff carry luggage for anyone!

  • Personal space:
You can strech your legs in the corridor of the Polish Train.
You can stretch your legs in the corridor of the Polish Train.

Unlike air or bus travel, there is room to move around, and really stretch your legs. And depending on how long the journey is, they sometimes have some dedicated time for passengers to go outside, buy some refreshments, get some fresh air, take photographs, or get some WiFi!

  • The social factor:
On the Czech-infused train from Berlin to Budapest!
On the Czech-infused train from Berlin to Budapest!

The European train is a little like the Indian train in the sense that you actually get to meet people. And talk to them.

I mean, you’re sitting elbow to elbow, you’re probably going to an international country, the passengers are either locals or tourists themselves, and to be frank, everyone is quite interested in your journey. And if you’ve got a bottle of booze somewhere.

All the better!

So now to the real McCoy!

HOW TO USE THE TRAIN IN EUROPE: 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

Depending on where you are coming from, you need to:

1.  Get a train ticket:

Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

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

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

Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

But don’t forget. Not all train companies allow you to pay online, or even to buy local tickets at local prices! Some train companies only allow you to buy a Eurail ticket if you’re buying from abroad, and which you can only pay for with a credit card. For more info on that check here..  And some do, but you either have to buy the ticket on the train, or have to pay online and then collect the train tickets once you’re in the country itself, or change the language of the website!

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

A goat on the train? Ah well, anything can happen. I've seen worse. Swans for example!
A goat on the train? Ah well, anything can happen. I’ve seen worse.
Swans for example!

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

2.  Check online for best routes:

A map of the European High - Speed Train Network!
A map of the European High – Speed Train Network!

Many train companies have their own website which you can access for routes so that you can see where you want to go. Or better yet. Where they actually go, and how to get there!

3.  Do your research:

Do you need to get a bus and then the train? Or vice-versa in Barcelona. Spain?
Do you need to get a bus and then the train? Or vice-versa in Barcelona. Spain?

I live in Berlin and the Polish border is just under two hours away as such, there are discount prices from the German Railway Service known as Deutsche Bahn or DB. You can get a one-way single ticket from Berlin to Stettin or Szczecin in Poland, for just €11.00. Reduced tickets for €8.30. If you want to make a day of it, a day ticket would be €22.00 and €16.60 respectively. You could use it for every local transport in Stettin and the ticket is valid until 03:00 the next day!

Or you could get the German Regional tickets also known as the Länder-Tickets. These are fantastic bargains as the Berlin-Brandenburg regional one day ticket is only €29.00 and can be used by up to 5 people! That’s right! 5 people can travel on this ticket and they don’t have to be related! This ticket is valid from 09:00 to 03:00 the following day, and on the trams and buses in Stettin (Szczecin), and can be used to get to the Polish border!

Yeah well, no promises on the Bogus Bus!
Yeah well, no promises on the Bogus Bus!

You sometimes see people hustling for ticket holders in Stettin (Szczecin) ‘cos if you have 5 people travelling together that’s €5.00 each. A bargain if ever I saw one!

You can get this ticket from the VBB Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg website or DB online. For more information check here and here.

4.  In fact, if you are in Germany, why not hop to some of our neighbouring countries too:

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

It might take you a while, but you can take the train from Berlin to London for as little as €59.00, to Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, Denmark, Croatia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Poland for as little as €39.00 per single ticket or one way trip!

And if it’s not too far away. And being that this is Europe we’re talking about, so it isn’t! Fares can sometimes go as low as €19.00 for destinations such as to Prague for example!

The Deutsche Bahn building in Berlin!
The Deutsche Bahn building in Berlin!

For more information check here.

5.  Reserve your seat:

Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards.
Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards.

Now as a blogger, I’m always online in some form or the other, and it really surprises me how travellers and tourists leave their train bookings until the very last minute!

Believe me. Don’t do that!

It was lovely having a Bristol cab and driver waiting for me!
It was lovely having a Bristol cab and driver waiting for me!

Trains are popular in Europe. And if the destination is on a well-worn track, then the trains will be packed. And if it’s the weekend or a public holiday, you won’t get a seat, and will be forced to stand….!

In the summer, it’s not unknown for teenagers to be sitting on the corridor floor with their mates for a few hours.

But they can cope. Can you?

Try to reserve a seat on the European train!
Try to reserve a seat on the European train!

Now if you really don’t want to pay for a reserved seat, then the trick is to either go to the very front of the train, or the very back of it. And be quick about it!

However, if you’ve got luggage or kids, somebody from your party ought to sprint in and bagsy a couple of non-reserved  seats, or you might as well do the decent relaxing thing, and reserve the seat of your choice, in a compartment that you prefer.

Our tiny Czech train in the middle of no-where!
Our tiny Czech train in the middle of no-where!

Having said that, lots of small rural or regional trains have no possibility to reserve seats at all, so either jump in and turn left, or go upstairs!

6.  Take some refreshments with you:

Take some refreshments with you!
Take some refreshments with you!

If you’re on a regional or rural train, no refreshments will be sold on the train. And don’t even think that you can buy “something” at the next station as countryside train stations are either tiny little things, or simply non-existent!

Generally, super-clean-fast-efficient-modern-high speed trains have restaurants and trolley service throughout the train, but you can’t be sure that you’ll like either what they’re offering, or the prices!

Refreshments on the European first class train usually include a small bottle of wine or beer. But not always!
Refreshments on the European first class train usually include a small bottle of wine or beer. But not always!

‘Best to bring your own stuff if travelling in second class. Refreshments are usually given for first class customers and usually include a small bottle of wine or beer. But not always!

7.  Talk to the locals:

Don't be afraid to talk to locals or your fellow travellers on the European train!
Don’t be afraid to talk to locals or your fellow travellers on the European train!

My fellow travellers were always very helpful and we usually spoke in a mixture of English or German and a splattering of whatever the local language happens to be. With a lot of hand gestures, acting, drawing, and generally making quite a fool of myself, they usually understood what I was asking! The local travellers always helped us get off at the stop that we usually required too.

Many a time just looking anxious, or “other,” tends to open a conversation. And really, you don’t ever have to worry. The locals will help you. Just ask. Promise!

The locals will help you. Just ask. Promise!
The locals will help you. Just ask.
Promise!

In some cases, even the train driver will help you!

8.  Be prepared:

Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!
Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!

When travelling through Europe, you’re likely to go through different countries, each with it’s own distinct flavour of technology. In highly advanced countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Holland, and the Nordic countries, technical equipment will be at it’s highest, with power outlets either in between your seats, on the table, or on the side of the wall near the window!

In less advanced nations such as in Eastern Europe and even in Southern Europe, not so much!

There might be wifi and a power outlet. And there might not!
There might be WiFi and a power outlet. And there might not!

There will be WiFi, but it probably won’t work, or will be spotty at best. And there will be no power outlets! On our 15 hour train journey to Hungary, I spent hours searching the train for a plug-hole. And where was it?

In the restaurant, hanging dangerously on the wall of the heavy main train door, or in the toilet!

Er No!

Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!
Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!

Oh by the way. Europe isn’t a country. It’s a continent, so if you’re travelling on an international train, you must take your passport with you. Train officials never used to check people in the past due to the European law of Free Movement, but as a result of strengthened alertness due to the increased height of terrorism, and to ensure our safety, they are now. So make sure you have everything in order.

Otherwise, you’ll be escorted off the train and your holiday could end right there!

9.  If you miss your train stop, don’t panic:

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you - don't panic!
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you – don’t panic!

Once travelling through Poland, I realized that we had missed our train stop as the countryside scene that was I expecting, did not show up on my horizon!

Hmm!

I couldn’t really look outside the window as the window was blocked with passengers in the corridor.

I couldn’t check the train map that you normally see in the corridors either as I couldn’t get to the corridor, and I didn’t have an iPhone in those days.

We had missed our train stop! Oh no!
We had missed our train stop! Oh no!

A girl in her early 20’s noticed that I kept attempting to leave the compartment. She confirmed that I had missed our stop.

OK. I’ll get off at the next stop!

Oh, I’ve missed that too!

And the train is now going East further into Poland, whereas I was supposed to be going to the sea which was in the West!

We got off the train!
We got off the train!

We got off the train.

Unfortunately, the train officials weren’t really very helpful and pointed at contrasting directions, so I decided to look around the station myself and peek onto other platforms and lo and behold, the connecting train that I wanted was still ON THE PLATFORM!

I checked and double-checked that it was indeed the right train, then we hopped on!

Then we hopped back on the train again!
Then we hopped back on the train again!

I so bugged the train conductor as per how many stops we had left, and what time we were expected to get to a certain seaside village, as there are no announcements and no destination indicators.

It was a case of watching and counting, each and every train stop…. 75 minutes later, we were there!

10.  If it all goes bananas, use your head:

Use your head at foreign train stations!
Use your head at foreign train stations!

There are 101 ways to travel through Europe, and the train is just one of them.

Sometimes it makes sense to choose another form of transport to get to your final destination.

It isn’t the worse thing in the world if you do!

HOW TO USE THE TRAIN IN EUROPE: 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

This article is not sponsored, and the excitement of using the train in Europe, is my very own!

For travelling across Europe, or from Germany, please contact: Deutsche Bahn or take a look at my country destination page!

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 10th British Shorts Film Festival is taking place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

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

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

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, it’s a darn shame!

January is going to be dramatic!

Watch this space!

Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to a few hotels. Please consider using the link, because every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself! A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

Have you ever used the train across Europe? What are your stories? Spill the beans!

See you in Berlin.

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

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

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How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Nicolai Perjesi
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Nicolai Perjesi

So last week’s post was pretty grave.

We had a heap of terrorist attacks all over France and Germany, so it just had to be written! And as I indicated last week,

I can’t tell you what to do, or advice you as to who best to run your country. Or mine!

What I can tell you is how to cope, and how to keep on living, doing whatever it is you’re doing. Just read last week’s post.

But for now, time for a little sunshine!

Ha!

VICTORIA’S SUMMER EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CAMPAIGN HAS BEGUN!

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

Every weekend, through the summer holidays, I’m going to be visiting a European city.

Every weekend!

For six (6) weeks and the first place that I went to was Denmark!

HELLO DENMARK!

Hello Denmark! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Hello Denmark!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Denmark is a Scandinavian / Nordic country.

It is south-west of Sweden, south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. In fact, you can either take the cruise ferry across the Baltic Sea, or drive across Northern Germany, via Flensburg!

The Kingdom of Denmark is a sovereign state that comprises of Denmark itself, two autonomous constituent countries – the  Faroe Islands (not in the UK) and Greenland. It also consists of Jutland, and an archipelago of 406 named islands such as Zealand (not New Zealand), Funen, Lolland, Falster and Bornholm, of which roughly only seventy (70) are inhabited, and a population of just 5.7 million people!

Denmark stretches along a coast of 7,314 km, which is longer than the Chinese Wall and the highest point in the country is only 170 metres above sea level!

Goodness!

Denmark is a very old country and dates back to the Vikings! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Denmark is a very old country and dates back to the Vikings!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Denmark is a very old country and in fact, the word Denmark dates back to the Viking age and is carved on the famous Jelling Stone from around 900 AD!

Even though today, Denmark is a tiny country, between the 13th and 17th centuries, Denmark was a superpower who was feared by all and an influence which was enormously powerful. Just check out the Irish-Canadian historical drama television series Vikings, and you’ll see what I mean!

It’s fantastic!

Denmark is known for world-class design, cinema, TV crime thrillers and new Nordic food. Denmark is also known for having the oldest flag in the world still in use by an independent nation, the highest taxes in the world, one of the top international standards of living, and is one of the most egalitarian countries in the world!

The Danes are also regularly ranked as the happiest people on the planet!

I’ve been to Denmark many times, but it’s been twelve (12) years, since I was last there!

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO COPENHAGEN?

Demark's most famous icon. The Little Mermaid of Hans Christian Anderson!
Denmark’s most famous icon.
The Little Mermaid of Hans Christian Anderson!

Wow!

Copenhagen was burning hot! And I mean that literally!

There I was packing a windbreaker, a warm jacket, jeans, a couple of pairs of socks…when Denmark proved that Nordic countries have lovely summers after all!

I’m more a wintry wind and rain type of person who is not averse to a bit of sunshine, but you know, I like wind, and being that I was born in Manchester, I’m used to rain, fog and mist lol!

So let us begin with some history!

Denmark has a population of just under 600,000 people! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Denmark has a population of just under 600,000 people!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and has a population of just under 600,000 people!

Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand, partly located on Amager, and is separated from a town called Malmö which is actually in Sweden, by the strait of Øresund!

Originally a Viking fishing village founded in 1167, the name of the city reflects its origin as a harbour and a place of commerce. The original Danish name was Køpmannæhafn, meaning “merchants’ harbour,” or often simply Hafn or Havn meaning “harbour” and so from 1417, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark, and still is!

Since the turn of the 21st century, Copenhagen has seen strong urban and cultural development facilitated by investment, in its institutions and infrastructure. It is one of the major financial centres of Northern Europe and has become integrated with the Swedish province of Scania and its largest city, Malmö, forming the Øresund Region!

Did you know that…

Beautiful Danish people! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Niclas Jessen
Beautiful Danish people!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Niclas Jessen
  • The best restaurant in the world is called NOMA and is based in Copenhagen! I desperately wanted to try out some dishes there, but they were fully booked. They have a waiting list though, so if you’re in Copenhagen for a few days try to get a reservation, and take anything you can get. It’ll be worth it!
  • Copenhagen boasts a total of 20 Michelin Stars – more than any other city in Scandinavia!
  • Copenhagen is a bike city with more than 36,000 cyclists every day, and 55% of the local population commuting to work on two wheels! In fact, cycling is taken so seriously that the bike lane is wider than the pedestrian one!
Leaping into the harbour baths at the Islands Brygge! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Leaping into the harbour baths at the Islands Brygge!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • You can swim in the harbour as Copenhagen has a beachside, and centrally located pools where you can swim safely. The water was brilliantly and refreshingly clean, and loads of people were jumping in, and swimming all over. Watch out though as we spotted some jellyfish!
  • Copenhagen has the world’s oldest amusement park otherwise known as Bakken in Dyrehavsbakken, and entrance is free of charge so that you only have to pay for rides, with every Wednesday being a 50% discount if you pay by cash!
  • Copenhagen also has it’s own amusement park and pleasure garden right in the city center, opposite the main train station – Tivoli Gardens, and is fantastic in the winter. The park opened in 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world!

Go see!

Copenhagen is home to the world famous Freetown of Christiania. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Copenhagen is home to the world-famous Freetown of Christiania.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Copenhagen is home to the world-famous Freetown of Christiania. Christiania is a green and car-free neighbourhood best known for its autonomous inhabitants’ different way of life. It was established in 1971 by a group of hippies who occupied some abandoned military barracks on the site and developed their own set of rules, completely independent of the Danish government.

Freetown Christiania is a mix of homemade houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues, organic eateries, and nature. Christiania is open to the public and guided tours are available.

I went there with “The Tall Young Gentleman” and even though there were loads of children dashing about, he didn’t like it.

Visitors are advised not to film nor photograph in Christiania proper, so I don't have any lol! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Visitors are advised not to film nor photograph in Christiania proper, so I don’t have any lol!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

It was a very hot day, there was a free concert going on, and so the “restaurant” areas were pretty packed. Members of the public are welcome and you can buy local produce and hand-made woven goods and clothes however, there are signs everywhere making it very clear that visitors are advised not to film nor photograph in Christiania, and also not to use any type of media in the area in and around Pusher Street, where you had people covered in masks, and heavier security due to the selling of marijuana, which is illegal in Denmark.

Oh, and no running!

It was educational, but after looking through the galleries, photographic studios, and generally walking around, we left.

HOW TO VISIT COPENHAGEN ON A BUDGET!

Er. Not spending money in Copenhagen Mr. Hans Christian Anderson. What's that now? Surely not! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Er. Not spending money in Copenhagen Mr. Anderson. What’s that now? Surely not!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Get the cheapest form of transport possible to actually get you to Copenhagen. We chose the train!

But actually, it was a Europa Inter-City coach-bus!

Issued by the train company!

If you're really broke, take to the waters, and make your own way to Denmark! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
If you’re really broke, take to the waters, and make your own way to Denmark!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

It wasn’t a big deal as a return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was just €58.00 and my son – “The Tall Young Gentleman” was completely and utterly free. Note that if you book Spar Preis Europa trains with German Rail otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn on this version, children who travel with their parents or grandparents, and are under 15, are free of charge!

Yep! Free of charge. They cost nothing. Nada!

  • Stay at a cheap hotel. Not a hostel!
This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous prices. I really couldn't justify the cost! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous prices. I really couldn’t justify the cost!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

You heard that right!

I love going to boutique hotels and hostels and since I knew that Nordic nations are expensive, I had a peek!

My goodness. Private rooms in hostels were going for €180.00 per night, and at the weekend, hostels insisted on two nights!

Er No!

Lovely boutique hotels even with all my charm and begging, were going for €220.00 and that was with a discount!

My husband wasn’t travelling with me. I just couldn’t justify the cost!

The Cabinn Metro Hotel had a more "realistic" price! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
The Cabinn Metro Hotel had a more “realistic” price!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Sooooooo, cue to a deeper more intense look as to what was available. And I can’t remember how I found it, but I found a hotel, at a more “realistic” price! The hotel was called Cabinn Metro Hotel.

It was a family friendly budget hotel based a few stops away from the centre of the city. We ended up with an en-suite bunk-bed room with it’s own table and chair, a kettle, a flat-screen TV, towels, an open wardrobe, a few sachets of tea and coffee in the room, and free WiFi.

Breakfast could be had for DKK 75 per person (no child discounts), but we didn’t try it.

The rooms are small, but for just a night, perfectly adequate.

And the price? A marvellous DKK 625 per night!

Arm yourself with a good map. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Arm yourself with a good map.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Arm yourself with a good map.

Free maps of the “official City map of Copenhagen” are available at the Copenhagen train station, hotels, public buildings, and pretty much everywhere! It was invaluable in finding our way around in the various districts, as well as having an included map of the train system and their stations.

Use public transport. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Use public transport.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Use public transport.

We found that as far as transport was concerned, figuring out the right ticket to buy, can be confusing. If you’re planning to visit the suburbs and outer regions of Copenhagen, then buy a 24 hour ticket which will allow you unlimited travel by bus, train, metro and harbour bus in all the zones of the Copenhagen region, including trips to Roskilde, Elsinore or other parts of North Zealand, for 24 hours. Adult tickets cost DKK 130 (and you take two (2) children under the age of 12 for free).  Children under 16 otherwise, cost DKK 65.

If on the other hand, you plan to visit Copenhagen only, don’t buy the 24 hour ticket, opt for the City Pass instead, as we did! You can buy a 24 hour Adult City Pass for DKK 80 or a 72 hour City Pass for DKK 200.  Children under 16 cost DKK 40 (24 hours) or DKK 100 (72 hours). The City Pass gives you unlimited access to buses, trains, metro and harbour buses in zones 1 – 4, and includes the centre of Copenhagen and to and from the airport!

I love walking tours, but walking is thirsty work! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
I love walking tours, but walking is thirsty work!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Go for a free walking tour.

You all know how much I enjoy a good ramble in a foreign city, or even in my own!

There are many outfits to choose from and I have my favourites, but I like to mix things around, so I chose the Copenhagen Free Walking Tours instead, and booked both the Grand Tour of Copenhagen and a Tour of Christianshavn. We loved the Grand Tour (which is a free tour supported by tips), but didn’t quite make it to join the official tour of Christianshavn, so we ended up doing that bit by ourselves…!

  • Go to museums or places of historical interest, for free.

Generally, all national museums in Denmark are free to enter for children under 18!

For adults, you can see Denmark’s most famous icon – A statute of The Little Mermaid, visit the Christiansborg Palace Tower which offers a magnificent view of the city’s rooftops, and go to the following museums which are free on selected days – the Museum of Copenhagen, (Fridays – but is closed until 2018!), the Thorvaldsen Museum (Wednesdays), the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Sundays), the Royal Danish Arsenal Museum, (Wednesdays), the Hirschsprung Collection (Wednesdays), and the Danish Architecture Centre, (Wednesdays, 5pm to 9pm).

Take a boat cruise in the Nyhaven District 'cos you can't be in Copenhagen without taking to the waters! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Take a boat cruise in Nyhaven District ‘cos you can’t be in Copenhagen without taking to the waters!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Take a boat cruise.

You can’t be in Copenhagen without taking to the waters.

There are many ships and cruises to choose from with all of them being quite similar in price and tour. However, whilst on our free walking tour, I saw the sign of a boat cruise with a price-tag that I thought was extremely reasonable. It was a guided cruise in Danish, English & German and cost only 40 DKK for adults and 15 DKK for children under 15!

Wow!

You can find it by the huge banner overhead and the side kiosk that is pretty basic. You need to go to the side of the pier and not to the front, where the other companies are! The cruise takes one hour, and leaves every 20 minutes.

Opt for brunch instead of breakfast or lunch as Danish food is enormously delicious, but the prices are simply out of this world! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Danish food is enormously delicious, but the prices are simply out of this world!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • If you’re in Copenhagen at the weekend, opt for brunch instead of breakfast or lunch.

Danish food is enormously delicious, but the prices are simply out of this world! I mean, a Danish pastry on the Scandlines ferry cost DKK 21.95, and a small cup of tea cost nearly the same! Even a simple sandwich on a cracker was costing a handsome ransom at DKK 58!

What to do?

Well, we discovered an area called Nørreport which is full of restaurants and side cafe’s to choose from. Through rambling and strolling around, I discovered a restaurant called Cafe Palermo. This restaurant serves à la carte of course, but it’s biggest attraction was the buffet brunch that they served for DKK 69 and for students / children DKK 59!

We discovered an area called Nørreport jampacked with restaurants and cafes. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
We discovered an area called Nørreport jam-packed with restaurants and cafes.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

We arrived there a little after 11:00 on Sunday morning, and it was quiet, but by 12:00 loads of young, hip, trendy people started to roll in. We sat by the window, surrounded by cushions, and the buffet was on the upper floor! The buffet consisted of pancakes, sausages, bacon, scrambled egg, a variety of bread, croissants, cake and fruit, as well as cheese, cold cuts, chicken, meat balls, sauces, soups, rice, potato, salads, and a very nice creamy tuna salad.

It was quite delicious!

They’re also known for cocktails!

Eat Danish street food or visit Danish farmers' markets. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Ditte Isager
Eat Danish street food or visit Danish farmers’ markets.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Ditte Isager
  • Eat at street food or visit farmers’ markets.

In my travels over the years, I’ve realised that the best way to get a feel of the people, the culture, and the food that they eat, is to either go to a street market where the locals go, or to find the nearest farmer’s market, and get the freshest food possible.

We did both!

We went to the farmer’s market at the Torvehallerne across the road from Nørreport Station. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love the luxury feel of a food marketplace filled with stalls selling Danish delicacies, local vegetables, fresh fish, delis, wine, and other tasty organic Danish delights!

We absolutely loved it!

Copenhagen Street Food How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Copenhagen Street Food
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

On our last day, we decided to go to the very famous Copenhagen Street Food Market which was brilliant.

It’s on the Papirøen otherwise known as the Paper Island, and is Copenhagen’s first and only genuine street food market on the waterfront cross the harbour. Crammed with the young and the beautiful noshing on grand organic fare, sustainable street food, locally produced bottles of organic beer, and the chill-out vibe of a live DJ on a top deck, leather cushions, deck chairs in the sunshine, people leaping into the harbour, and you’ve got yourself a very warm food truck and party atmosphere, while the sun goes down!

Fabulous!

Danish food is rather more seafood, smoked meat, cheese, smørrebrød, and seasonal berries and herbs! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Danish food is rather more seafood, smoked meat, cheese, smørrebrød, seasonal berries & herbs!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Go local and just eat fresh raw stuff: Denmark isn’t known for a hearty warm meal filled with the coziness of mashed potatoes, cabbage, and a pie! Danish food is rather more barren, making way for seafood, smoked meat, cheese, smørrebrød, and seasonal berries and herbs! As a result, we had rather a lot of sandwiches, salad, and cake!
  • If you’re really broke, take a blanket, take a basket, and enjoy the rest of your holiday on a Danish beach!
  • Buy everything you need at the 7-eleven supermarket, which like in Thailand, are everywhere, and the prices are very, very budget-friendly!
Chill out and have fun on the harbour. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Chill out and have fun on the harbour.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Chill out and have fun on the harbour.
  • Visit Christiania, but make sure that you follow their rules.
Rent a bicycle as the bike is king! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Nicolai Perjesi
Rent a bicycle as the bike is king!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Nicolai Perjesi
  • Rent a bicycle as the bike is king, but remember, you must always give way to bicycles, and there are thousands of bike riders, so look both directions before you put a step out, as they’re extremely fast!
  • Walk absolutely everywhere.

ANYTHING ELSE?

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

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see, even though you have two (2) hours before you have to get back to the coach-bus station.

Because it won’t end well.

And it didn’t!

Before we realised what had happened, we were somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

And it took almost an hour to get back into town.

And an hour to get back to the hotel to pick up our stuff.

And well!

Even though I took a cab, and the taxi driver stepped on it, I paid a DKK 200 fare.

And we still missed the coach-bus! And our connection. Again! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

And we still missed the coach-bus!

And our connection. Again!

Luckily, there was another bus company that hadn’t left – Eurolines – and so a quick dash of shifting our stuff from the taxi to the coach-bus, a bit of a sob story ‘cos there were a queue of people who wanted to buy a ticket, and a last-minute fee of €100 in cash, secured two seats for “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I safely back to Berlin.

Phew!

So there you have it.

HOW TO VISIT COPENHAGEN ON A BUDGET. EVEN THOUGH I MISSED MY LAST CONNECTION. AGAIN!

How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Mette Johnsen
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Mette Johnsen

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions about hanging out with hipsters and yuppies, on a Danish harbour, are my very own!

Throughout the summer months of July & August, all the museums in Berlin will be open each and every day! This will conclude with the bi-annual Die Lange Nacht der Museen otherwise known as the Long Night of Museums taking place on 27.8.16 from 6p.m. in the evening ’till 2a.m in the morning!

The Pop Kultur Festival is a new festival based in hipster Neukölln, over three (3) exciting days of new international and German bands, live concerts, performances, talks and reading, taking place from 31.08.16 – 02.09.16.

I’ll be attending an Exclusive Food Tour with Fork & Walk on Wednesday, August 10th organised by the Berlin Chapter of Travel Massive.

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

Save the Date!

August is going to be scorching!

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

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

Watch this space!

How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! Photo ©Michael Colville-Andersen
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Photo ©Michael Colville-Andersen

Have you ever been to Copenhagen? Do you think Denmark is expensive? Have you ever missed your flight, train, boat, coach or bus? Spill the beans!

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

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

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

It’s been a rough few weeks.

The citizens of France are in a state of shock.

The world is in a dreadful state.

Our sympathies and condolences are with the people, family and friends of Nice.

We're not leaving!
We’re not leaving!

First, we had that horrible referendum in which my fellow Brits voted to Leave the European Union, and won!

Shortly after, we had situations of terror in France, mindless shootings in the US, the senseless mass killing of the gay community in America, a mad axe-wielding teenager in Germany, an airport terror attack and a near military coup in Turkey, and the awful fact that Donald Trump, a laughable figure, might in fact, end up being the next President of the United States, and thus, the leader of the Free Western World!

Uggggh!

And just recently, very very recently, we had another disturbed teenager run riot of an evening, randomly shooting innocent shoppers, after luring them to a free McDonalds’ burger, in Germany!

Just what is the world coming to?

It's just so sad. ©Lionel Bonaventure / AFP Getty Images
It’s just so sad.
©Lionel Bonaventure / AFP Getty Images

It’s sad.

I’m in shock.

And I’m just so sad.

The terrorist attacks have struck my continent.

This wonderful continent of Europe might make tourists and visitors wonder.

They might think that perhaps travelling abroad isn’t all it’s made out to be.

10 reasons why being a British Eurpean is a really good thing!
10 reasons why being a British European is a really good thing!

They might think that Europe isn’t the place to be after all!

My blog isn’t about politics, and I’m not a politician or a secret agent, so outside of the odd look-between-the-lines rant, I can’t tell you what to do, or advice you as to who best to run your country. Or mine!

What I can tell you is how to cope, and how to keep on living, doing whatever it is you’re doing.

I’m a British person and I live in Europe. People are worried and concerned:

I’M SCARED TO TRAVEL ABROAD!

I want to travel the world with you but I’m scared to travel abroad...
I want to travel the world with you but I’m scared to travel abroad…

You don’t need to be.

However!

I’ll tell you something for nothing.

We Europeans are as stoic as we come.

Europe is thousands of years old and has been through battles many, many times.

We’re not strangers to attacks.

Or threats.

Or war.

The most horrifying Jewish concentration camp in the history of Nazi Germany. Auschwitz.
The most horrifying Jewish concentration camp in the history of Nazi Germany.
Auschwitz.

You’ve only got to look through the last century to see that.

Britain has been blighted by the IRA in Ireland for years, and tourists still love to come to the UK.

Spain has had train explosions from people fighting for the separation of the Basque Region from the country, and tourists still love to visit Spain.

Heck! World War II was started by a madman from Austria, who terrorised the whole continent by his fantasy of German supremacy. Not to talk of the Berlin Wall that was to divide a nation for 38 years, and tourists still love to come to Germany too!

The point I’m trying to make is:

DON’T LET FEAR TAKE CONTROL

Don't let fear take control!
Don’t let fear take control!

Walk outside your front door.

Drive your car.

Get on that train.

Take a flight.

Sail on a ship.

Take a step at a time.

Don’t let fear take control!

IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO EUROPE ‘COS I’M SCARED TO TRAVEL ABROAD? 

Sure it is. Everyone is welcome!
Sure it is. Everyone is welcome!

Sure it is!

Millions of international tourists and travellers visit and travel through Europe every year, and most visits are completely and utterly trouble-free.

However, if you have any concerns, or need help, or information, I recommend the following:

  • As much as possible, stay away from large crowds and high-profile events.
  • Don’t leave bags or baggages unattended. Take care of your belongings and passports at all airports and train stations.
  • Remain vigilant but don’t go crazy and finger-point at random innocent people, going about their business.
  • Follow the instructions of the local authorities.
  • Monitor media and local information sources.
  • Allow extra time for your journey due to increased security measures at airports, important train stations and international borders.
  • If you’re British, contact GOV.UK for foreign travel advice to any country!
  • If you’re German, contact the Außenministerium der Bundesrepublik Deutschland – Andere Länder.
  • If you’re American, contact the Embassy of the United States in whichever country you’re in.
  • Take out travel and medical insurance BEFORE you travel.

Don’t panic remember:

Keep calm! Don't worry! Don’t panic!
Keep calm!
Don’t worry!
Don’t panic!

Crime rates in many countries are low.

Standards of living are high.

Education is free, therefore literacy is high.

Many Europeans speak at least three languages.

There is social security, therefore the social gap is lower than outside the European continent.

Health and health insurance is taken seriously and in many cases, is the law.

Social infrastructure works wonderfully and is available to all.
Social infrastructure works wonderfully and is available to all.

Social infrastructure works wonderfully and is available to all.

Tolerance is extremely high.

Fairness and truth are important.

Ordinary people don’t carry weapons of any kind. There isn’t a need to!

They say that most accidents and deaths occur near to, or in the home. Statistically, you’re safer outside your home!

And if you’re still not sure take a peep.

Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign!

Sit back & relax while I go on Victoria's Summer European Challenge Campaign!
Sit back & relax while I go on Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign!

Yes, that time is soon nigh.

Summer baby!

Get ready for…..

Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign!

European Challenge what?!

Oh. Cooooome. On!

I’ve already told you about this. Remember?!

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

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

Every weekend!

For six (6) weeks!

So, since I’m a happily married woman, a responsible mother, and it’s going to be the summer holidays (being smart here), I’m going to be taking the “Tall Young Gentleman” with me!

And.

Get this.

We’re going to be travelling completely by train!

OMG!

WHERE ARE WE GOING?

Copenhagen:

Demark's most famous icon. The Little Mermaid of Hans Christian Anderson!
Demark’s most famous icon.
The Little Mermaid of Hans Christian Anderson!

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and has a population of just under 600,000 people!

Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand, partly located on Amager, and is separated from a town called Malmö which is actually in Sweden, by the strait of Øresund!

Originally a Viking fishing village founded in the 10th century, the name of the city reflects its origin as a harbour and a place of commerce. The original Danish name was Køpmannæhafn, meaning “merchants’ harbour,” or often simply Hafn or Havn meaning “harbour” and so in the early 15th century, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark.

Doesn't Denmark look as if you could eat it! ©NordicFoodFestival.
Doesn’t Denmark look as if you could eat it!
©NordicFoodFestival.

Since the turn of the 21st century, Copenhagen has seen strong urban and cultural development facilitated by investment, in its institutions and infrastructure. It is one of the major financial centres of Northern Europe and has become integrated with the Swedish province of Scania and its largest city, Malmö, forming the Øresund Region!

I’ve been to Denmark many times, but it’s been twelve (12) years, since I was last there, and we’re going to be staying at a hotel hostel-style, ‘cos Danish prices are out of this world!

Eeeek!

Lucerne:

Lucerne in Switzerland
Lucerne in Switzerland

Lucerne is a city in the German-speaking part of central Switzerland and is the capital of the Canton of Lucerne, and the capital of the district of the same name!

With a population of about 80,501 people, Lucerne is the most populous city in Central Switzerland.

Owing to its location on the shore of Lake Lucerne (der Vierwaldstättersee), within sight of Mount Pilatus and Rigi in the Swiss Alps, Lucerne has long been a destination for tourists.

The official language of Lucerne is Swiss German, which is very different from German-German and very sing-songy…!

I live in Germany and Switzerland is practically next door but…

Shock & Horror! I've never actually been to Switzerland!
Shock & Horror!
I’ve never actually been to Switzerland!

Shock & Horror!

I’ve never actually been!

Mainly ‘cos it’s frightfully expensive!!

This time I’m going to cough up, and just go for it. And with a demanding growing lad too.

Gulp!

Luxembourg:

Luxembourg, otherwise known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg,
Luxembourg, otherwise known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

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

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

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

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

Luxembourg is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe!
Luxembourg is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe!

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

Luxembourg has a population of just 524,853 and is one of the least-populous countries in Europe!

It is a democracy with a constitutional monarch, headed by the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and is the only remaining grand duchy in the world! Not only that, but Luxembourg is considered to have the world’s highest GDP per capita!

Wow!

Luxembourg will be a new country for me, and I’ve heard lovely things about it.

To put the cherry on the cake, we’re also going to be guests of Visit Luxembourg.

I’m pretty excited to visit, aren’t you?!

Bratislava:

The local folk of Bratislava, in Slovakia!
The local folk of Bratislava, in Slovakia!

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, and with a population of about 450,000 is Slovakia’s largest city!

Bratislava occupies both banks of the River Danube and the left bank of the River Morava, which borders on Austria and Hungary making Bratislava, the only national capital in the world, that borders two independent countries!

In fact, Bratislava is so small, that most people end up taking a day-trip to Vienna (Austria) that is just one (1) hour away by train!

As lovely as Prague!
As lovely as Prague!

Yipee!

I’ve always been impressed by the history of Slovakia as after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in post World War I, the Slovaks and Czechs established Czechoslovakia!

On 1st January 1993, Slovakia became an independent state after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia. A very prime example of how two nations, even after separation, still live together and or are, connected to each other, without hate and strive!

As you know, I used to live in the Czech Republic and whilst there, I lived briefly in Slovakia too!

In those days, there was hardly any difference at all, so I’m going to have to find out if it’s still true!

Germany:

I live in Germany. We can all choose our lifestyle.
I live in Germany.
We can all choose our lifestyle.

And because this is my blog and I can do whatever I like, I’m going to add two German destinations!

Bremen:

Bremen - a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany, otherwise known as the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen!
Bremen – a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany, otherwise known as the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen!

Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany, otherwise known as the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen!

Bremen is a commercial – industrial city, with a major port on the River Weser.

It’s part of the Bremen/Oldenburg Metropolitan Region and is with 2.4 million people, the second most populous city in Northern Germany!

Bremen is a major cultural hub and home to historical galleries and museums, ranging from historical sculptures to major art museums.

I’ve been to Bremen a few times, but I remember the very first time that I visited. Over twenty (20) years ago…!

Gulp!

The Musicians of Bremen, in Bremen!
The Musicians of Bremen, in Bremen!

I couldn’t believe that the animal statues that were dotted all over the city, were the animals in the old Grimm folk story – The Musicians of Bremen!

You can imagine how I felt when I found out that Hamelin from the The Pied Piper of Hamelin fame, actually existed and is based on a real true life event….!

Usedom:

On Usedom - a Baltic Sea island in Pomerania, Germany!
On Usedom – a Baltic Sea island in Pomerania, Germany!

Usedom is a Baltic Sea island in Pomerania which originally used to be one single island region but since 1945, was divided between Germany and Poland!

About 80% of the island belongs to the German district of Vorpommern-Greifswald in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

The other side and the largest city on the island, are part of the Polish West Pomeranian Voivodeship!

The island’s total area is 445 square kilometres (172 square miles). The German part is 373 square kilometres or 144 square miles, and the Polish part is 72 square kilometres or 28 square miles.

With a population of just 76,500 people – 31,500 on the German side and 45,000 on the Polish side, Usedom is the sunniest region of both Germany and Poland, and it is also the sunniest island in the Baltic Sea Region!

On the pier in Usedom - a Baltic Sea island in Pomerania, Germany!
On the pier in Usedom – a Baltic Sea island in Pomerania, Germany!

I’m absolutely thrilled, as we’ve been lucky enough to be invited as guests of the Usedom Island courtesy of Usedom Tourismus GmbH!

I’ve never been to Usedom before, so I just can’t wait to experience 42 kms of beach, which is even said to rival that of Brighton!

I am excited to be able to see the magnificent historic bath architecture villas on the German promenade, the echo of nobility and the wealthy bourgeoisie, artists and intellectuals of the 19th century, as well as lakes, marshes, dunes and woods, all blended into tiny countryside villages within a Natural Park!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

ANYTHING ELSE?

We're going to be travelling by train!
We’re going to be travelling by train!

I live in Berlin.

In Germany.

And Germany is right in the center of Europe.

It has airports, train stations, bus stations, bicycle stations, cars, ships, ferries, and every possible means of transport.

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure so we’re going to be travelling by one of my favourite forms of transport.

We’re going to be travelling by train!

See you next week!

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

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions about taking control of travel nightmares, are my very own!

July is Pride Week!

From 02.07.16 – 24.07.16, the LGTB (community), well-wishers and gay-friendly supporters will gather in Berlin to celebrate and advocate a tolerant and open-minded society.

Throughout the summer months of July & August, all the museums in Berlin will be open each and every day! This will conclude with the bi-annual Die Lange Nacht der Museen otherwise known as the Long Night of Museums taking place on 27.8.16 from 6p.m. in the evening ’till 2a.m in the morning!

The Pop Kultur Festival is a new festival based in hipster Neukölln, over three (3) exciting days of new international and German bands, live concerts, performances, talks and reading, taking place from 31.08.16 – 02.09.16.

I’ll be attending an Exclusive Food Tour with Fork & Walk on Wednesday, August 10th organised by the Berlin Chapter of Travel Massive.

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

Save the Date!

July is going to be hot!

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

If you’re not in Berlin in July, you’re missing all the action!

Watch this space!

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

Is it safe to travel to Europe right now? Are you scared to travel abroad? Will you let terrorism take control? Have your say?

See you in Berlin.

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