How to live in Dresden. For longer than a day!

How to live in Dresden. For longer than a day.

So Dresden.

A Baroque Old Town.

A garden suburb.

A cultural metropolis.

What a beautiful city!

As I told you last week, Dresden has a long rich history as the capital and royal residence of the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendor, and was once known as the Jewel Box of Germany, because of it’s Old Town city centre which is crammed with baroque and rococo architecture.

Sadly, when the international community think of Dresden, they make no mention of German splendour and historical treasures, but rather the horror of the Second World War!

War is a terrible thing, and Dresden paid the price.

Towards the end of World War II, Dresden was pretty much flattened and destroyed, and became unrecognisable.

After the war, restoration work helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city, including the Dresden Cathedral, the Zwinger Museum Complex and the very famous Semper Oper.

Victoria at the River Elbe in Dresden – Germany
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

Outside of the Old Town, Dresden has a trendy New Town – Neustadt – a nearby Saxon Switzerland National Park, the Ore Mountains which borders both Germany and the Czech Republic, the Moritzburg Castle, impressive countryside around the Elbe Valley, etc.

And.

It’s.

A.

Waterside City with the River Elbe running right through it.

Yeah!

Germans are enormously open-minded so nude beaches as Freikörperkultur, or FKK movement – Free Body Culture, was set up
©Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1984-0828-411A / Settnik, Bernd / CC-BY-SA 3.0

I hadn’t visited Dresden in more than twenty (20) years, and when I first visited, my German boyfriend at the time tried to persuade me to join him, at one of the family-friendly nudist Free Body Culture (FKK) beaches.

With his friends!

As if!

I did however, agree to join him alone.

And only him.

I was very conscious of the fact that people would stare at my body.

They did!

I was the only person wearing items of “clothing.”

With chocolate-brown skin.

Wearing a bikini.

That was bright yellow!

You could see Victoria – in her bright yellow bikini – from the moon!

You could see me from the moon!

Cue 2018.

Like Hamburg, I had of course, breezed through, on my way to Prague, but I hadn’t stopped there for a very long time.

Dresden was better than I ever hoped.

Exciting Times in Dresden – Forgive the casual look. I was previously wearing heels!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – March 2018

Last week, I told you what to do if you’re a tourist. But what if you wanted to stay a little longer?

A couple of days. A week. Perhaps, even for a few weeks!

Make no mistake, I’d still highly recommend Berlin as your go-to-city, but if you insist, Dresden will do just fine!

The Tall Young Gentleman had a fine time in Dresden. You will too!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

Being that my new job as the Referent Interne Trainings or the Internal Training Manager, is in Dresden, I’ve been doing a lot of research which has not only been exhausting, but pretty expensive too! 

Having said that, my experience has allowed me to stay in a wide variety of accommodation providers spanning from a collection of hotels, apartments, and even a hostel!

Yep!

I do these things, so that you don’t have to!

I know!

Let’s get started, shall we?

WHY VISIT DRESDEN?

Martin Luther in Dresden

Why not?!

Well, I wrote quite a bit about it last week.

And anyway, Dresden is in Germany!

So what?

You really can’t go wrong there.

Why not?

Well, it’s Germany!

TAKE ME THERE?

I’ve used FlixBus for both local & international travel. Great prices!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel. However, depending on where you’re coming from, taking the bus / coach might actually be cheaper. And far more efficient!

I’ve been taking FlixBus, and their prices have been marvellous.

At one point, I actually took a bus for €4.99!

The average price is usually between €6.00 – €10.00, depending on how flexible you can travel.

I’ve used FlixBus for both local (within Germany), and international travel, and if you’re on a budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything cheaper!

I was having a fine time flying all over Europe, thank you very much!

Of course, if you’re coming from abroad, flying might prove more economical.

Dresden is quite a small city, so you might actually find yourself either flying to Dresden Airport (DRS), Leipzig-Halle Airport (LEJ), Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) or perhaps, even Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (SXF)!

If you’re not sure which airport in Berlin, you’re supposed to be flying to or out of, here’s a link to the website of Flughafen / Airport Berlin Brandenburg GmbH which has comprehensive information on both airports BerlinTegel (TXL) and Berlin-Schönefeld (SXF) as they’re at opposite ends of the city, and you don’t want to find yourself in the wrong one!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

There are tourists in Dresden. But I wouldn’t call it crowded!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

I didn’t think so!

In fact, as it wasn’t yet “the season,” some places and operations were still closed or had reduced hours.

But in the summer, prepare to gird your loins, and fight your way through!

Plan well.

WHAT IS DRESDEN LIKE?

Frederick Augustus II of Saxony or Augustus II the Strong – the Golden Rider!

I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s a small city of historical and architectural interest, the food and beer is impressive.

And it’s very, very pretty!

I DON’T SPEAK GERMAN.

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

Not. A. Problem.

No really.

No worries.

It’s amazing how many languages a typical European speaks.

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

If you speak English, German, Russian, or Chinese, you’re good to go.

And get this.

I couldn’t believe it!

Most things were written in German.

And.

English!

Hurrah!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

You’re not going to live in this abandoned hut, so don’t worry!

Ha! Ha! Not unless you want to!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

At the tip of the River Elbe and the Elberadweg cycle path, in Altpieschen – Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – May 2018

Ha! Let me help you here.

Dresden isn’t as cheap as I was expecting.

If you’re from the UK or the US, it’s as cheap as chips, obviously.

If you’re from Germany, food prices are the same as in Berlin, but accommodation was far cheaper!

I mean, I was able to get a studio apartment with two (2) bedrooms, a small kitchen / dining room, and an en-suite bathroom for just €30.00 a night.

Thirty Euros (€30.00) a night!

And it wasn’t via Airbnb, but booking.com

But before we go any further, let me reiterate:

I am an affiliate partner of booking.com. In fact, if you use any of my hotel / apartment links, you’ll see the verified partner symbol of the British Berliner logo, along with each affiliated link. 

This means that every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at absolutely no extra cost to yourself!

None of the hotels / hostels / apartments that I used were comped, or sponsored. All were paid for, absolutely by myself! As a result, you’ll also see my honest and verified view of what I thought when I stayed there, as a legitimate customer too.

Thanks a million!

Here’s all the variety of places where I stayed:

HOSTELS:

The Königssuite – Kings Suite at LaLeLu Hostel in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – May 2018

It’s a boutique “mini-hostel” with just seven (7) rooms, which was why I booked it!

It’s in the trendy hip Äußere Neustadt, otherwise known as Antonstadt and just a 20 minute walk from the AltStadt! In fact, when I got there, I immediately felt quite at home!

I was in the Königssuite or the Kings Suite which was a romantic suite covered with gold and lots of red!

The bathroom and lovely kitchen is shared, but there’s a fee for bed sheets and towels.

Excellent WiFi!

I paid €39.00 per night for a private double room suite. If there’s two of you, that’s €19.50 a pop!

BED & BREAKFAST / GUEST HOUSES / PENSIONS:

The Hotel Pension zu Dresden Altpieschen in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – May 2018

I was there for a week and really wished I could have stayed longer!

It’s a 1901-ish charming Guest House that is in the lovely district of Pieschen, about a 10 minute walk from the AltStadt, a 10 minute tram-ride to the NeuStadt, and a mere 250 metres from the river Elbe!

My room was in the loft, was absolutely huge, and had 20th century wooden beams features everywhere. I also had my own landing, my own staircase, and my own entrance door that could be securely locked!

I had a huge bathroom that was so big I couldn’t reach the mirror, so they had to had to get me a small one, for my tiny height!

A fridge was included, complete with a bottle of water!

Everything was delightful, except for the WiFi.

Quite adequate for your average tourist, but utterly useless for someone like me!

I paid €42.00 per night for a spacious loft. If there’s two of you, that’s €22.00 a pop!

Highly recommended!

The Pension Dresdener Berge in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

I couldn’t believe how cheap, but safe, the Pension / Bed and Breakfast would be!

This was my first hotel in Dresden, and if I had known then what I know now, I would have blocked-booked it, as I never got that fantastic price ever again!

In fact, I wasn’t even able to get the studio apartment either, as someone had booked it!

I highly recommend it as a budget option for 1 person, a couple, or a couple with a child!

I had a 2-bedroom studio apartment for just €30.00 a night!

It had a large bedroom, a small bedroom for a child, a small kitchen / dining room, and an en-suite bathroom.

Excellent WiFi!

I paid €30.00 per night for a 2-bedroom studio apartment. If there’s two of you, that’s €15.00 a pop, and your child is totally free of charge!

Book ahead!

APARTMENTS:

The work of a lifestyle, expat, travel blogger is never done. There’s just so much to dooo!

I stayed at two (2) different hotel – apartments. And one of them, I even stayed at twice!

The Hotel & Apartment Altstadtperle in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

With houses dated from the last century and older, genteel street lamps, and 300 year old churches scattered everywhere, it was no wonder that I found the quiet neighbourhood appealing.

I stayed in two different apartments at this hotel, and they were always quite large with a huge bathroom, and a small kitchen. And the cleaner came in every day!

I loved the hotel itself, the location was fantastic, and my apartment was great.

But the staff were lazy, and the WiFi pretty much non-existent. They also wouldn’t waive the City Tax even though they were supposed to!

I stayed here twice spanning almost two (2 weeks), as I really thought that the issues were a one-off.

They weren’t!

If you’re on holiday, it’s a really lovely apartment-hotel and I’d recommend it, but if you’re on a business trip, book somewhere else!

I paid €40.50 initially, and the following week I paid €46.08 per night. For two people, €20.25 and €23.04 a pop!

Stirl Apartments in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018

My husband – The Music Producer and our son came to visit me in Dresden, so I booked a larger apartment in a residential area.

It had a fully equipped kitchen and dining room, a bedroom, a third bed, a sofabed, and a very nice bathroom!

The third bed was in our bedroom, but “The Tall Young Gentleman” was horrified when he saw it, so we used the sofabed in the “living room area” instead!

WiFi was excellent!

It was a little further away from the action than we would have wanted, but the neighbourhood was very quiet and peaceful.

We paid €85.00 per night which for three people would be €28.50 a pop!

SMALL HOTELS:

The Hotel Windsor in Dresden
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – May 2018
  • I stayed at the Hotel Windsor which is a very nice small hotel, which had the look of grandeur, but at surprisingly, “small budget” prices!

I had an en-suite bathroom, a double bed, a tiny writing-table and my own balcony.

Excellent WiFi!

I paid just €37.52 which is even less than I paid for the hostel above!

TRENDY FANCY HOTELS:

Aparthotel Am Schloss in Dresden.
©booking.com

It’s a hotel which is famous for it’s architecture, location, service and facilities.

It’s right in the center of the AltStadt, about 350 meters away from the Zwinger Palace in Dresden, and a few minutes from the Frauenkirche with the castle very, very close by!

We unfortunately couldn’t stay here as I had accidentally pre-booked Stirl Apartment as a last cheaper resort, just in case we couldn’t get the Aparthotel Am Schloss, and then I forgot!

I only remembered when I got a message stating that my reservation was now booked. Oops!

While we were in the AltStadt, I had a quick peek inside the Aparthotel Am Schloss.

It was exactly as I would have wished, and we really would have loved staying there!

Even though it was far more expensive than the hotels that I had previously been to, I would have preferred it, for the mere fact that it was exactly where we wanted to be.

In the Old Town!

It would have been €117 per night, but very much worth it!

Book ahead to get good prices.

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

Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t look for an adventure!

Sure!

The AltStadt is the historical part of town, but the The NeuStadt is a grungy hipster sort of place. It’s for the young and trendy, but you don’t have to be young or trendy to visit, and it’s not Copenhagen or Amsterdam, so you can definitely take your children!

There’s a lot of free stuff happening in the city. Most of the available info is in German, but if you check the website of Visit Dresden on a regular basis, keep your eyes open, or just ask a local where you can meet other locals, you’ll find them!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Like any other typical German town, public transport in Dresden, is pretty efficient!

Dresden isn’t as large as Berlin, and as such public transport is like any other typical German town – trams, buses, ferries, and overland trains.

And like any other typical German town, public transport is pretty efficient.

When using public transport, there are many possibilities to buy a ticket. You can buy:

A variety of Dresden public transport tickets!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – April 2018
  • A short-trip ticket – €1.70
  • A single ticket – €2.30
  • A day ticket – €6.00
  • A four (4) journey ticket – €8.20
  • A family day ticket – €9.00
  • A small group ticket – €15.00
  • A weekly pass – €21.50
  • A monthly pass – €60.50
  • A season ticket (per month) – €50.90

I have bought them all, and since I’m a regular in Dresden, I decided to buy a season ticket to cut down on cost and for flexibility!

There are ticket machines pretty much everywhere, so you can buy your ticket whenever and wherever you want!

The ticket machine accepts cash, EC cards, and pretty much, most “recognised” credit cards!

As in Berlin, you buy your ticket and either validate it by clicking the ticket on a blue-standing object, which you’ll find on the train platform BEFORE you actually get on the train, or if using trams and buses, look for a sort of orange-standing object which is not far from the doorway, as soon as you get on.

Don’t forget, as in Berlin, there are no barriers to using public transport. However, there are random inspector checks, and if you are found NOT to have a valid ticket, the penalty is €60.00. Or more!

Dresden VVO – DVB public transport info & season ticket!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Dresden – May 2018

So in order to keep German public transport a non-barrier one, please buy your ticket!

The marvellous thing about using the trams and buses in Dresden is that they actually have information on the monitor display INSIDE the tram or bus stating the name of the next stop, the details of the next available buses, trams, and train numbers at the stop, as well as how long the waiting time would be!

The frequency isn’t every 3-5 minutes as in Berlin, but the monitor display tells you all the information that you need to know, so that you can make choices as to which transport provider to use.

Great stuff!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Lovely hotels, but why are there no Reception Desks?!

Surprisingly, most places in Dresden don’t actually have a Reception Desk!

And if they do, it isn’t manned or even open!

You generally have to let them know when you’re going to arrive so that they’ll be there to meet you, but if you arrive after-hours there’s a telephone number to call or instructions as to how to get the key, which is usually in some sort of secure coded box near by.

Oh, and just so you know, the City of Dresden also puts a Tourism Tax of €1.30 per person. Per night!

However, if you’re in Dresden for business reasons (and can prove it), the tax is waived.

MY VERDICT:

The Music Producer & Victoria at the Zwinger Palace in Dresden – Saxony!
©Frank Böster – Behind The Couch Studios – Dresden – April 2018

We quite like Dresden!

Dresden has culture, and a vibrant history.

For many international visitors, Dresden isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, unless it’s Christmas.

Because Dresden Stollen!

But if you’re in Saxony region, make it a point of duty to spend a few weeks days, in Dresden or as many as the surrounding area, as you can manage.

If you’re looking for a new destination in East Germany, and you’ve “done” Berlin (As if!), say hello – DRESDEN!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Obviously!

My office is in Dresden, so I sort of have to!

Let’s do it!

HOW TO LIVE IN DRESDEN. FOR LONGER THAN A DAY!

Tea for everyone!
How to live in Dresden. For longer than a day!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and al the beds that I bounced up and down on, are my very own!

Next week, the last post on Dresden!

And in a few weeks, I’ll be revealing my next summer trip!

Stay tuned.

Yay!

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

The Lighthouse of Moritzburg – Saxony.
How to live in Dresden. For longer than a day!

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!

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

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to live in Dresden. For longer than a day!

Have you ever lived in Dresden? Do you prefer hostels, pensions, guest houses, B&B’s, apartments, or hotels`? Would you know how to navigate yourself around trams, trains, buses & horses?! Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

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

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

Advertisements

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

The Tall Young Gentleman in Zagreb, Croatia

Isn’t it exciting?

I’m featured in the Metro Magazine – a lifestyle magazine in the Philippines: Metro Magazine Feature (Annual Body Issue) – Lifestyle – April 2017 Edition!

It’s a pdf for now but apparently, there’s a book coming out!

Don’t I look great!

Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Metro Magazine (Annual Body Issue) – April 2017 Edition – the Philippines!

I hope you’re enjoying the first post that I wrote about Croatia.

And I’ve got lots more where that came from!

Yes Sir!

However, this post is not only going to be about Zagreb, but about travelling with family.

I don’t often write about family travel as this blog is really all about me. And my travels!

Does it sound selfish?

It does!

Ah well!

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

I purposely chose Croatia as a place to travel with my family for the reasons that I’ll soon be writing below, but first, let’s get the info!

Teenagers! You’ve got to love ’em!

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

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

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

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

Children are versatile.

And they don’t really need much.

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

Yes, you.

The parent!

My family & I in Thailand – All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.

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

Believe you me. They know!

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

What are you talking about`?

Finding slugs!
Finding slugs!

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

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

In Stellshagen – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – Germany.
Our son as a baby – 20 months old!

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

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

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

I love travelling with our son, and even though he’s just turned 15. OMG! It won’t be long until he’ll want to be travelling with his friends. Gulp!

In Northern European countries that age tends to be between 16 and 17 years old as young people are more independent, and their parents liberal, tolerant, and open-minded which is why I decided to go to Amsterdam at the beginning of the year. With our teenager in tow!

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

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

Not to worry. Everything turned out just fine!

Book your hotel here!

And now:

ZAGREB

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia.

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia.

Zag. What?

Zaaaaaaaagreb!

Zagreb is one of the oldest cities in Central Europe as far back as 1094!

It’s located in the northern part of Croatia, just north of the Sava River, and has a population of just under 793,000 people!

We didn't have time to go to the Plitvice Lake nearby, but we'll certainly do so, next time!
We didn’t have time to go to the Plitvice Lake nearby, but we’ll certainly do so, next time!

The local name for Croat is Hrvat. You will see this word everywhere. Hrvat was a powerful military chieftain in the early Middle Ages and also another word for “friend!”

The historical part of Zagreb to the north of the centre of the city is called Ban Jelačić Square. It is composed of the Gradec or Gornji Grad /the Old Town), and the diocese settlement of Kaptol, a medieval urban complex of churches, palaces, museums, galleries and government buildings that are popular with tourists and locals alike!

In fact, if truth be told, April is so early in the season that there weren’t really many tourists at all!

I didn’t hear British voices or German ones. The tourists that were about were either American, Korean, Italian or Croatian!

The tourists that were in Zagreb at this time were either American, Korean, Italian or Croatian!

These two parts of “town” used to be divided by a river and a bridge known as the Krvavi Most, otherwise known as, the Bloody Bridge!

Krvavi Most – the Bloody Bridge – is a street just 2 minutes away from our holiday apartment!

The rather unusual name is so-called after the original bridge which used to lie over the Medveščak creek,and which gained notoriety because of the many conflicts that happened between the citizens of the two parts of “town” – Gradec and Kaptol!

Directions to the Bloody Bridge in Zagreb – Croatia!

The bridge is long gone, as is the river, but the street kept it’s name – The Bloody Bridge!

Zagreb is a small city but a city rich with history, prestigious architecture, and great connections linking Croatia to Central Europe, South-East Europe, and the Mediterranean!

Book your hotel here!

10 REASONS WHY ZAGREB IS A FAMILY DESTINATION – A GREAT PLACE FOR TEENAGERS!

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

There’s no denying that Zagreb is very much a family destination with plenty to offer, to satisfy both parents, and their accompanying teenager. And with the help of the 72 hour Zagreb Card, courtesy of the Zagreb Tourist Board, we did just that!

Thanks so much!

Here’s why:

The Lotrscak Tower & Grič Cannon
©Patrik Macek – Zagreb Tourist Board

1.  The Grič Cannon: Every day at noon, the Grič Cannon is  fired from the Lotrščak Tower and the people of Zagreb set their watches by it. In fact, you can gather under the tower and watch the cannon come out! And without fail, the huge “Boom” will make you jump out of your skin!  I’m guessing teenagers would be too cool to show you that they almost lost their iPhones, due to the shock!

We watched it twice, and we still jumped!

The guy manning the cannon is pretty jolly, as he always waves out of the window to whoever might be nearby!

Don’t look if you’re squeamish – The Zagreb Mummy!
©Archaeological Museum Zagreb

2.  Nesi-Hensu – An Egyptian Mummy: This famous Egyptian “mummy” was a woman called Nesi-Hensu, the wife of a tailor from Thebes. The mummy was wrapped in sliced bands of a linen book which was inscribed and preserved, in the Etruscan language. The mummy was accompanied by a papyrus with a text of several chapters from the Book of the Dead, making it the longest surviving manuscript of the language, in the world!

She can be found at the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb.

Rent a bike in Zagreb. Any type of bike!

3.  Hire a local bike: The beauty of most European countries is how easy and normal it is, to use your bike. Most of the Old Town is car-free so it’s perfectly save for teenagers to ride along by themselves in and around the many parks in Zagreb, or to the surrounding suburbs and countryside.

Museum of Broken Relationships
©Mare Milin

4.  Visit a Museum: Zagreb is home to a wealth of museums including the Croatian Natural History Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, the Museum of Illusion, and the Archaeological Museum Zagreb. In addition, Zagreb is also the permanent home of the Museum of Broken Relationships!

We had planned to go to the Zagreb City Museum otherwise known as, the Museum of the City of Zagreb, but we were too late to reach it on Sunday, and it was utterly closed on Monday! However, we managed to visit the Museum of Broken Relationships.

My husband – The Music Producer – was sceptical at first wondering how a roomful of broken hearts could cause such an attraction however, it wasn’t like that at all! It’s a quirky museum that exhibits mementos and love tokens donated from broken-hearted lovers, all over the world.

Even The Tall Young Gentleman found it interesting. I’m sure your teenager would too!

Museum of Broken Relationships
©MoBR

In some places, the stories were quite funny and in some, extremely idiotic!

All I can say is Berlin, furniture, and an axe!

Red Srebrnog Zmaja – The Order of the Silver Dragon
@Maja Homen

5.  The Order of the Silver Dragon: Each Saturday, (April – September), tourists can meet members of the Red Srebrnog Zmaja, otherwise known as the Order of The Silver Dragon at St. Mark’s Square in the Upper Town! This Order re-enacts famous historical conflicts between Gradec and Kaptol, and is a great opportunity to see authentic, fully functional, historical replicas of medieval armour!

If all else fails, take the funicular up and down, in Zagreb!

6.  Zagreb is safe: Croatia is an up-and-coming Central-East-European destination with many things to recommend it. It’s small, cheap, fresh and interesting. It’s also easy to move around by bus, tram, bicycle or simply walking around, with plenty of people-watching activity to satisfy any discerning teenager!

And if all else fails, take the funicular up and down!

Officers of the honorary company of the Cravat Regiment, Zagreb – Croatia!

7.  The changing of the Cravat Regiment Guard: Sadly, we didn’t see the Order of the Silver Dragon above, but we did manage to bump into the Cravat Regiment Guards instead!

The Cravat Regiment is part of the Croatian light cavalry from the 17th century. Apart from great valour, its biggest claim to fame was its uniform, especially the distinctive scarves its soldiers wore around their necks, which is where the cravat got its name from! The knotted scarf quickly became a popular fashion accessory, and was already known as cravat (English), Krobatten (German), and Cravates (French)!

A Regency-style Cravat tied in a bow on a Grafton collar.
©Charlie Huang

The Cravat Regiment can be found every weekend at noon, at St. Mark’s Square in the Upper Town, in which you’ll see the two-hour ceremony of the changing of the Cravat Regiment Guard, stemming right back from the 17th century, by the very same regiment soldiers who gave the tie it’s name!

I think we saw them at the end stage of the ceremony as they seemed to be recruiting for new guards, and getting certificates and medals.

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

You know how I always seem to have a nose for these things so when  I spied a couple of local hacks, they took me in, and gave me some titbits. Not only was this ceremony an important part of the recruitment process, but for the first time in Croatian history, a single woman was being added to the team!

How thrilling!

Look at the magnificent view that you can only get from the tallest building in Zagreb – Zagreb 360°!
Zagreb Tourist Board – ©Davor Rostuhar

8.  Zagreb 360°: Go up to the tallest building in Zagreb, otherwise known as the Zagreb 360° – Observation Deck and Event venue!

Zagreb 360° is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Zagreb and can be found on the Ban Jelačić (main) square. In fact, you can’t miss it. Just look up!

On a clear day you can even see as far out into Slovenia!

It’s  on the 16th floor at the very top of the Zagreb Skyscraper and offers a spectacular view of the Ban Jelačić (main) square, the Manduševac fountain, Kaptol, Gradec, the Upper and Lower Town, and the most important cultural and historic structures in Zagreb.

On a clear day you can even see as far out into Slovenia!

We went up there and very much enjoyed the view. In fact, it was so sunny in some parts that it was difficult to take photographs with our iPhones!

We liked Zagreb 360° and enjoyed reading the historical posters and gallery photography, although some of the translated content was a little disturbing…!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” and I played a game of Ludo at the Zagreb 360° which he won!

Sometimes, it takes a holiday to remind you that even though your teenagers might be strapping lads and thoughtful girls, they’re still very much children. The Zagreb 360° had a number of larger-than-sized board games and so The Tall Young Gentleman and I played a game of Ludo.

He won!

My family on our walking tour in Zagreb – Croatia!

9.  Take a city walking tour: I’m a great lover of walking tours, and one of the best ways for your teenager to get to know their way around Zagreb, is to take a walking tour.

We went with a local company called the Free Spirit Waking Tour Zagreb. I believe it’s the only free walking tour of it’s kind in Zagreb!

These are just some of the people that I happened to meet in Zagreb – Actor Musicians!

Generally, the local guide is usually an expert in the area, and shows you around the city that they have either grown up in, or have come to love. It usually last about 2 hours, it’s everyday, and it’s completely free of charge, save for tips!

Our guide – Luka – was great. He really knows his stuff and is fun. And with a child in tow that counts for something. We gave him a very nice tip at the end!

10.   And lastly, the Grič Tunnel – A secret tip: Zagreb has underground tunnels!

I’ve been everywhere. Let’s go out and play cricket with the penguins!

My husband – The Music Producer – was looking for something to surprise me with! As a well-seasoned lifestyle travel blogger, it’s not easy to knock me over with a feather as I’ve either already been there, or done that! And so, he wanted to show me somewhere, and that I wasn’t to check my VoiceGuide Zagreb App, or Google!

Hard stuff!

The Music Producer & The Tall Young Gentleman at the Grič Tunnel – A secret tip in Zagreb – Croatia!

We followed him down a pedestrian tunnel in the historic neighbourhood of Grič, otherwise known as Gradec or Gornji Grad!

And we found a very huge, and very long underground tunnel!

The Grič Tunnel consists of a central hall connected by two passageways to Mesnička Street in the west and Stjepan Radić Street in the east, and four passageways extending to the south.

It was built during World War II to serve both as a bomb shelter and a promenade. However, after the war it quickly fell into disrepair and disuse, until it was used as a shelter during the Croatian War of Independence, and for dance raves in the 90’s!

We found a very huge, and very long underground tunnel – The Grič Tunnel in Zagreb – Croatia!

In 2016, the tunnel was remodeled and opened to the public as a quirky new tourist attraction. And it really does the job.

It was so hot outdoors that the coolness of the tunnel was a welcome relief. I even thought of having a picnic there!

And strangely, there are even public utilities if you’re desperate, too!

Your teenagers will love it, just like we did!

Mmm! Fritule – Croatian doughnuts – are quite yum!

That’s if for now. See you next week!

Where we stayed: Apartment Place4you – Just under €60.00 per night for the whole apartment. Wonderful!

Book your hotel here!

10 REASONS WHY ZAGREB IS A FAMILY DESTINATION – A GREAT PLACE FOR TEENAGERS!

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

This article is not sponsored and even though we received complimentary 72 hour Zagreb Card, courtesy of the Zagreb Tourist Board,  all opinions and the enticing pork sandwiches that we happily munched through, are my very own!

In May, I’ll be writing more about Croatia, and visiting Sweden & Finland!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in May, you’ll miss the sunshine!

May is going to be exciting!

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

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!

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

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

Have you ever been to Zagreb? Do you travel with your family? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

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

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

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

We’ve just returned from Croatia.

And OMG!

Even though I’ve travelled to 61 other countries!

Croatia is the first time that I’ve ever been to the Balkan States, my 62nd country, and the first (1st) new country for 2017!

It was better than I ever hoped.

Me in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

My plans for 2017 (in alphabetical order) were:

  1. Austria
  2. Croatia
  3. Czech Republic
  4. England
  5. France
  6. Germany (of course. Ho! Ho!)
  7. Holland
  8. Ireland for TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference)
  9. Poland
  10. Romania
  11. Russia
  12. Slovenia
  13. Sweden

Let’s see how we’ve done so far.

Mozart & Vienna are adorable!

AUSTRIA:

CZECH REPUBLIC:

I went skiing!

I haven’t quite got around to writing about skiing in the Czech Republic this year yet, but this is what I previously wrote!

HOLLAND:

Dutch children in traditional costume.

CROATIA:

  • Yay!
Because Game of Thrones!
Because Game of Thrones!

Now, to be frank, most people have never heard of Croatia.

Game of Thrones?

Yep!

I love that show by the way…!

But Croatia?

Isn’t it somewhere in Eastern Europe?

Yes.

And No!

It can’t be both surely?

The Music Producer in Zagreb. Geographically, Croatia is one of the previous communist states!

Well, geographically, it’s one of the previous communist states.

Don’t worry.

Breath!

However, in recent years, Croatia has managed to re-invent itself, so that even though it is actually in Eastern Europe, it’s marketed as Central Europe too!

Croatia has such a Mediterranean vibe, that you could be in Italy or Austria!

In truth, it has the vibe of the Mediterranean, and you’d be hard pressed not to think that in certain parts of Croatia, you could actually be in Italy, or dare I say it. Austria!

I know!

Book your hotel here!

LET’S GET A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY!

Ceremonial Officers in Zagreb – Croatia

Croatia, otherwise known locally as Hrvatska, or officially – the Republic of Croatia – is a sovereign state between Central Europe, Southeast Europe, and the Mediterranean!

Croatia covers 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles) and is on the Adriatic Sea coast, which contains more than a thousand islands!

Croatia’s population is just 4.28 million, and the capital city is Zagreb.

A traditional Busker in Zagreb – Croatia!

The Croats arrived in the area of present-day Croatia way back in the early part of the 7th century, before becoming two Duchies in the 9th century.

Croatia became a kingdom in 925 and remained so, for almost 200 years!

After World War I in 1918, Croatia was included in the unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs which seceded from Austria-Hungary, and merged into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In 1991, Croatia declared it’s independence which sadly, between 1991-1995, became a bloody war with Serbia, then known as part of the ex – Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia!

However, Croatia won it’s independence and since 2013, has also been a fully fledged member of the European Union!

WHY GO TO CROATIA?

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Why not?!

Well, Croatia is in Europe!

It’s on the map where East meets West.

It’s entwined with civilizations, history and culture, that goes back centuries!

It boasts numerous architectural jewels and a world heritage that make parts of Croatia enviable. And UNESCO locations filled with buildings, marked by world history of thousands of years, that made me practically salivate when I saw them!

It’s modern, but also traditional with folk customs, rural traditions that are still adhered to.

In fact, we were all given traditional Easter eggs and Easter cake, handed out as gifts. And I can’t even tell you how many random people (many of them old), waved and smiled at me, on passing by!

The Tall Young Gentleman at the sea in Split - Croatia!
The Tall Young Gentleman at the sea in Split – Croatia!

Croatia is near the sea.

It’s pretty cheap by West European standards.

Fairly developed in services and infrastructure.

And I’ve never been to the Balkans before!

Because Game of Thrones!

Because Game of Thrones!
Because Game of Thrones!

Now when I pitched Croatia to my husband – The Music Producer – he wasn’t initially convinced.

He thought that Croatia would be too far into Eastern Europe, leading into the throngs of Albania, Romania, and Bulgaria.

He wasn’t excited at all!

The Tall Young Gentleman & The Music Producer were pretty excited once they got to Zagreb – Croatia!

However, one of the things that changed his mind, was the personal contact that I made with the Zagreb Tourist Board at the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin!

I was so excited to be visiting their country, and they were wonderfully helpful.

Thanks so much!

Is it any wonder that The Music Producer was caught up with my enthusiasm too!

I have a lot of things to write about, and you’ll see them all.

I promise!

No worries!

TAKE ME THERE?

Take me to Croatia by ship!

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel. However, Croatia is quite far from Germany, so we flew!

We had planned just ten (10) days in Croatia – three (3) days in Zagreb, three (3) days in Split, and four (4) days in Dubrovnik.

We wanted to spend at least 14 days (yes, please!) but school commitments meant that the German Easter School Holidays this year, only catered for ten (10) days! But as I always advocate, be smart, use all the weekends, and make it work!

It’s not possible to fly non-stop from Berlin, so we flew with Lufthansa, via Munich on the way in, and Austrian Airlines, via Vienna, on the return leg.

Our outward journey from Berlin Tegel (TXL) to Zagreb (ZAG) with a stop-over, took 6 hours and 20 minutes. Our return journey from Dubrovnik with a stop-over, took just 4 hours.

However, you don’t even need to fly, as you can either take a cruise ship in from the Mediterranean States, a ferry from Italy, take a bus-coach from anywhere you like, or simply rent a car and drive from Austria or Slovenia!

Note: There aren’t a lot of inter-city trains. In fact, there’s no train station in Dubrovnik at all!

There actually aren’t a lot of trains in Croatia at all!

If you’re on a tight budget then many bus-coach companies such as MeinFernbus / FlixBus also go to Croatia. But do be aware that the fastest routes are usually only sold in Croatia itself.

We decided to use the coach-bus between Zagreb – Split and Split-Dubrovnik.

Zagreb – Split was a straight-forward ride, and took 6 hours and 20 mins. Cost: €24.00 per person.

Split – Dubrovnik proved problematic, as the coach-bus actually went backwards in the direction of Zagreb, then dropped us in the backwater town of Benkovac, at the Benkovac Busbahnhof!

I didn’t like Benkovac in Croatia, at all!

Benkovac was yucky!

As soon as I saw the “bus station,” I wanted to get the hell out of there!

It was practically deserted and every “room” was boarded up.

We had a 1 hour stop-over at 10:30, and the next decent place was a bar. So we ran to it and ordered a few (non-alcoholic) drinks there!

It’s 10:30 in the morning remember.

An early morning shot of vodka in many East European countries, is believed to be quite healthy!

Not that it stopped any of the local punters. Ho! Ho!….!

Our journey took 8 hours and 30 minutes, but the bus was 45 minutes late, so make that 9 hours and 15 minutes instead!

We probably should have rented a car, and be done with it!

Cost: Split – Benkovac €12.00. Benkovac – Metkovic €7.35. Benkovac – Dubrovnik €5.65 per person.

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Croatia isn’t crowded in the Spring – Locals in Zagreb – Croatia!

Not in the Spring it isn’t!

In fact, there were very few tourists around as it wasn’t yet “the season,” and many a restaurant were luring customers in with 10% discounts.

But in the summer, prepare to gird your loins, and fight your way through!

Plan well.

Book your hotel here!

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, and it’s very small!

Zagreb is the capital city in Croatia, and it’s very small!

Split and Dubrovnik are even smaller, and receive up to 3,000 guests per cruise ship, in the summer!

I haven’t a clue how many cruise ships sail by, but it won’t be pretty.

Having said that, if that’s the only time that you can travel, don’t let anything get in your way, as most cruise visitors are only in town for half a day, so that evenings will all be yours!

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS CROATIA LIKE?

Croatian food is most delicious!

We were only there for 10 days, but Croatia definitely made an impression on me.

It’s of historical and architectural interest, the food and wine is impressive, the waters are clean, green-blue, and crystal clear.

And it’s very, very pretty!

I DON’T SPEAK CROATIAN.

Our guide speaks at least four (4) languages. Possibly, even more!

Not. A. Problem.

It’s amazing how many languages a typical European speaks.

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

If you speak English, German, Italian or Korean, you’re good to go.

Besides, everyone pretty much speaks English too!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

A stone house in Croatia!

Ha! Ha! Not unless you want to!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

This plate of Cevapcici was certainly pretty cheap. Ho! Ho!

Croatia isn’t cheap-cheap.

If you’re from the UK or the US, it’s as cheap as chips.

If you’re from Germany, prices are the same as in Berlin, and you can eat at gourmet restaurants, at far cheaper prices!

We pretty much spent a large amount of time drinking a few glasses of wine, whilst people watching. And a few more!

And on this trip, we decided to book apartments instead of hotels or hostels.

Book your apartment here!

Booking an apartment in Croatia is by far better, than booking a hotel!

We had great difficulty with personal space in Madrid last year, as The Tall Young Gentleman has recently turned 15 (OMG!), and is very tall. We decided to either book two (2) hotel rooms, or a large apartment instead.

Prices are low, and the quality and standards of apartments available, are exceedingly high. I’ll write more about it in the next few weeks!

Frankly, if you’re paying between €45.00 – €60.00 per night, for huge apartments with terraces, working kitchens, and a piano, you simply can’t go wrong!

Book ahead to get good prices.

Book your apartment or hotel here!

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

The Adventure Begins – More next week!

Absolutely!

Too many to write at the moment.

More next week!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

A vintage car, ‘cos modern cars aren’t allowed in the Old Towns, in Croatia!

All of Croatia is pretty small, so every city we visited was quite walkable.

In most cases, cars are not allowed into the Old Towns!

However, you could take the bus, the tram, or simply walk!

ANYTHING ELSE?

A Bosnian waitress - Don't forget if you're travelling to Dubrovnik, you'll have to go through Bosnia!<br /> ©Photo Adam Jones - adamjones.freeservers
A Bosnian waitress – Don’t forget if you’re travelling to Dubrovnik, you’ll have to go through Bosnia!
©Photo Adam Jones – adamjones.freeservers

If you’re travelling to Dubrovnik, note that there’s a tiny strip of road that’s actually in Bosnia! It only takes about five (5) minutes, but make sure that you have your passport with you.

The motto in Croatia is to relaaaaaax & not rush things.

I think we did that rather well!

MY VERDICT:

You know nothing Jon Snow except that Croatia is pretty brilliant!
You know nothing Jon Snow except that Croatia is pretty brilliant!

We all loved it!

Croatia has got art and culture, and has a vibrant history.

Because, Game of Thrones!

Just kidding!

Or am I?!

You know nothing Jon Snow…..!!!!

But seriously.

For many international visitors, Croatia isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, but if you’re in the Balkan area, make it a point of duty to spend a few weeks days, in as many cities as you can manage.

If you’re looking for a new destination that isn’t really on the beaten path, say hello – CROATIA!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Totally!

Croatia is a sunny dream, and I can’t wait to visit again.

Let’s do it!

HOW TO VISIT THE BALKANS: INTRODUCING CROATIA – THE DREAM OF GAME OF THRONES!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the delightful cobbled walks that we happily rambled through, are my very own!

In April & May, I’ll be writing more about Croatia, and visiting  Sweden & Finland!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re quite mad!

April is going to be superb!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!
How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

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!

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

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Have you ever been to Croatia? Are you a fan of Game of Thrones? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

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

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