A Beginners’ Guide to the 69th Berlinale. Yes! The Berlin International Film Festival 2019 is finally here!

Mr. Jones at the Berlinale – the Berlin International Film Festival – Competition 2019 by Agnieszka Holland starring James Norton
© Robert Palka Film Produkcja

OMG!

Go!

Go!!

Go!!!

I’ve told you before and I’ll probably tell you a million times over, living in Berlin is awfully fabulous!

I mean, there’s just so much to do!

At Sputnik Kino for Die rbb Reporter in Berlin!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner / Kay S. Abaño [www.kayabano.com]
Victoria smiling for Die rbb Reporter in Berlin!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner / Kay S. Abaño [www.kayabano.com]

Only a few weeks ago I was telling you all about how I could afford to travel all over Europe, rush through Bruges in Belgium, get scammed in Berlin, be utterly bored by Romania, proud as punch to be invited for the Royal Reception of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, asked to explore Sweden, Latvia and Estonia on a press trip, and got completely lost and trapped in India!

With family in tow!

And just the other week, I was in the German newspaper – Der Tagesspiegel – (Berlin-Brexit Stories #2 on 15th January 2019 – 17:56), and I’m going to be on TV again on 13.03.19!

It’s going to be in connection with Brexit and British Expats in Berlin / Germany.

And just like last time, a TV crew contacted me, and asked if they could follow me about for, you know, a typical day in the life of a travel, expat, lifestyle British blogger!

Recording was at the British Shorts Film Festival that took place at the Sputnik Kino in Berlin.

The programme will be shown on – Die rbb Reporter | rbb – Briten in Berlin und Brandenburg – Deutscher Pass statt Brexit-Chaos or Brits in Berlin and Brandenburg – German passport instead of Brexit-Chaos on 20.02.19 at 21:00.

UPDATE: The rbb Brexit reportage has been postponed to: 13.03.19 at 21:15!

Save the Date!

I’ll write more about it later on in the month!

Yay!

Robert Pattinson at the Berlinale – Damsel – What a sexy gorgeous bloke!
© Gerhard Kassner / Berlinale

And now, ladies and gents, the red carpet has been rolled out yet again, and Berlin is about to hobnob with the best of the best. I mean, if it’s good enough for Bill Murray, Helen Mirren and Robert Pattinson. It’s surely good enough for you!

And why forsooth?

Because?

Because the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, is in town!

Now for those of you interested in getting a piece of the action it’s really quite easy.

WHAT IS THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE?

The new 69th Berlinale 2019 Film Programme!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2019

Well, the Berlinale is simply, the world’s largest public film festival which provides an audience of interested film-goers, a city full of excitement, a diverse cultural scene, fascinating new films, up and coming artists, and an opportunity to see, talk to, and take close-up pictures, of international stars in the movie world!

The public programme of the Berlinale shows about 400 films per year of mostly international or European premieres of every genre, length and format!

Freak Show by Trudie Styler – Generation
©Maven Pictures

Formats such as:

  • Epic international cinema (Competition)
  • Independent art house (Panorama)
  • Films for a younger audience or indeed, anyone young at heart (Generation)
  • New discoveries and promising talent from the German film scene (Perspektive Deutsches Kino)
  • Avant-garde, experimental cinematography (Forum / Forum Expanded)
  • International film history consisting of cinematographic rediscoveries, high-quality film prints, digital screening formats, film aesthetics, film technology, and historical black and white documentary filming. For 2019, the focus is on the presepctive of female filmmakers (Retrospective)
  • Film classics and digitally restored film classics and rediscovered films  (Berlinale Classics)
  • Cult films curated by the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen (the German Cinematheque – Museum for Film and Television) and that pay tribute to the lifetime achievement of great and inspirational film stars or personalities (Homage)
  • Films about food (Culinary Cinema)
  • Art house cinemas within Berlin (Berlinale Goes Kiez)
  • Cinematic story-telling of Indigenous people around the world (NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema)
  • New and extraordinary productions via the honouring of the glamorous, the extraordinary, and influential cinema personalities (Berlinale Special)
  • An exclusive first look at exciting new series productions from around the world (Berlinale Series)
  • And brilliant art house cinema short pieces (Berlinale Shorts)

The Berlin International Film Festival is a source of inspiration in the global film community, encouraging the influx of film programmes, workshops, panel discussions, joint projects, and other creative outlets and networking possibilities via:

Berlinale Talent – 12 fantastic festival films you should really watch with meeeee!
© Berlinale
  • The European Film Market (EFM) an international marketplace for the new film year, and a platform for innovation and change
  • The Berlinale Co-Production Market a forum for international networking and matching projects, producers, and money institutions for film production
  • The Berlinale Talents which introduces high-profile professionals to 250 promising young international film makers
  • The World Cinema Fund (WCF) which provides financial support to boost cultural diversity in German and European cinemas as well as film projects in countries with weak film infrastructure
  • And the Berlinale Residency programme which offers international directors, financial support and funding to live in Berlin for a few months, and to start their next film project

Yeah baby!

Victoria & Wes Anderson. And a lady who accidentally photo-bombed us! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

And with more than:

  • 332,403 sold tickets
  • 18,080 professional visitors
  • 130 countries
  • 3,688 journalists
  • Art
  • Glamour
  • Parties
  • Networking
  • The Business of Film-Making

 

I’m actually in the video above. This was the first “star” Press Conference at the Berlinale, and I’m standing right behind the journalist who asked Bryan Cranston that super interesting question!

You simply can’t go wrong!

That’s right.

From the 7th of February to the 17th February, 2019, Berlin will be packed solid, with members of the film industry.

My heart swells and is almost fit to bursting, when I know that Berlin is competing with the likes of other film festivals, in Cannes, and Sundance.

Alright, not in the same category, but still.

In my opinion, a festival to be proud of!

With more than four hundred (400) films, fifteen (15) categories sections, and more than half a million cinema visits, the Berlinale is not only an independent film festival with a difference, but also a film festival that ordinary people can actually visit.

Ordinary punters at the Berlinale. You know. People like YOU!
© Peter Kreibich – Berlinale Goes Kiez

Yes, that means YOU!

A world international festival can sometimes be daunting, so I’m going to try and make it as easy as possible, so that you too can participate.

If you want to!

Read my beginners’ guide and find out how!

A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE 69TH BERLINALE. YES! THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019 IS FINALLY HERE!

George Clooney at the Berlinale. So cool. So relaxed. So sexy. So …
©Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
  • BE PREPARED: The Berlinale always takes place in February so get yourself on the mailing list of the Berlinale, so that you know when the official Berlinale programme is published.
  • USE THE INTERNET: There is a Berlinale homepage in both English and German. On the homepage is a Programme Section which also has a most valuable item called the Berlinale programme or Programmsuche. Use this item to filter and search for films so that you have an idea of what you might want to see BEFORE the film festival begins.
Search for a programme at the Berlinale
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • GET THE PROGRAMME: If you’re not entirely sure what each film is about, you can either download the pdf format or if you’re in Berlin (and why wouldn’t you be!), you can pretty much find the programme brochures / publications in every cinema forum in the city, as well as the Potsdamer Platz Shopping Arcade (Arkaden), every Berlinale Box Office, many theatre box offices, and in pubs, bars, cafés, and restaurants everywhere!

It’s free of charge. Just help yourself!

  • USE TECHNOLOGY: Not only can you use the Berlinale programme for your personal searches but you can also get into the 21st century and download the Apps (for Android and iOS) which links into the programme so that you can mark your favourite film or event at home, or on the move, and still remain up-to-date across multiple devices. The app also provides Berlinale information about Press Conferences and Photo Calls, festival venues, festival events and an overview of festival video broadcasts, the Opening and Closing Gala, as well as all the fun on the Red Carpet!

Relax & check my social media feed about the Berlinale, on Twitter & Facebook!

  • USE SOCIAL MEDIA: The Berlinale is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube – with the hashtag #Berlinale or #Berlinale2019. You can also follow my Twitter titbits and little quips here! Not only that, but around the Potsdamer Platz Arcade, WiFi is available for 2 hours per day per person, and there are other WiFi hotspots scattered around in various venues. For free!
  • MAKE A LIST: Once you have a rough idea of what you want to see, go ahead and make a list. Don’t forget to put the date, the name of the film in it’s original language and in English or German, the section category, the country of origin, the venue, and the time of screening.

Then make a second list with different films. Just in case.

And a third one too!

Look at the packed crowd for the World Premiere of The Bookshop, at Friedrichstadt-Palast. Aim to arrive early!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • CHECK THE FILM TIME: People get really excited when punters finally get the film of their dream and then discover very soon after, that they can’t actually watch it, ‘cos they’re still at a previous showing!

Just because the film states a starting time of 20:00 doesn’t actually mean that it’s going to start at 20:00! Films start late, discussions over lap. Deal with it!

I find that putting films three (3) hours apart generally leaves more than enough room to manoeuvre. So, if for example, a film starts at 09:30, the next film I book is at 12:30 and not anything less! Most films tend to last between 80 and 100 minutes but you want to give yourself time for overlaps, and also for getting from A to B. Berlin’s public transport system is fantastic but you still have to wade your way through the crowds to get out of the venue itself, and then go downstairs to your next train station, not to talk of wading yourself through more crowds, at the next film venue!

If you plan well, you can even use the Berlinale shuttle bus departing every hour which can be used by each and every Berlinale festival visitor travelling between Potsdamer Platz (Linkstraße, close to the entrance of U2) and Haus der Kulturen der Welt (main entrance), and is absolutely free of charge!

  • LEAVE EARLY: Doors generally open 10 – 15 minutes before the film starts, so make sure you’re in the queue at least 20 minutes before the movie begins. If it’s a popular film, give yourself 30 minutes, as there is no allocated seating. First come, first served n’ all that!

No seat is a dud in my opinion, but if you have preferred seating, or want to get comfy with the new plush seats available in some cinema venues, then get there early.

Get your Berlinale film tickets in person!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

This means that you’re going to have to gird your loins, get all your mates together and be smart and efficient. Each individual can only buy 2 tickets per film, except for Generation (children / youth films) which you can buy, 5 tickets at a time, and Culinary Cinema film screenings at 19:30, and you can buy as many as you like!

You can of course, cross your fingers and buy on the day if tickets are available at the box office of the cinemas themselves. Ticket counters open daily from 10:00 to 20:00, with people forming a queue from as early as 08:00!

Oh, and don’t forget.

For Same-Day tickets, only hard cash is accepted!

If you don't feel up to being with the rabble, not a problem, use your fingers and go online to buy tickets at the Berlinale instead!
If you don’t feel up to being with the rabble, not a problem, use your fingers and go online to buy tickets at the Berlinale instead!
  • BUYING TICKETS ONLINE: If you don’t feel up to being with the hoi polloi, not a problem, use your fingers and go online instead!

On the programme page is an online ticket icon. If you click on it, you’ll be directed to the online ticket shop but be warned, the other buyers are keen film-goers and pros. at this game. You’ll need firm fingers to keep clicking and refreshing, in order to get those tickets. Or better still, allocate yourself an army of friends to help you.

You know how concert tickets sell out in 10 minutes? Yep! They use the same method. Friends! Mates! Neighbours!

Everyone you know!

Grab a few friends to help you buy your Berlinale ticket!
Grab a few friends to help you buy your Berlinale ticket!

If you click on the Online Tickets icon, you will automatically be forwarded to the website of the Berlinale ticketing partner – Eventim. You’ll have to create an Eventim account. There is no processing fee, so what you see is what you pay!

You can also use a major credit card and the tickets will be delivered to you by either Email, on your mobile phone, or you can simply pick the tickets up at the Online Ticket Pick-up Counter in the Potsdamer Platz Arcade shopping centre, by showing your printed confirmation and some sort of ID.

There’s also an exclusive ticket counter for punters with MasterCard!

Berlinale ticket prices are very reasonable!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

If you register by telephone for Generation tickets, groups of at least 6 people or more, can buy their tickets at a cost of just €3.50 each!

Oh, and you need to be at least 18 years old to see any of the films (except for Generation screenings).

Roll up! Roll up! Queue up & come & get your ticket!
© Peter Kreibich – Berlinale Goes Kiez
  • NO TICKET: If you still haven’t got the ticket you want, then go ahead and get any other film ticket instead!

The whole point of a film festival are the intriguing films that are made available. Every film has passed muster, and outside of your own personal preference, none of the films are duds.

Go on live a little!

If you’re still unsure, then go to the venue of your choice and either hold out a sign that you’re looking for an extra ticket, or look for individuals who might want to sell theirs. Don’t deal with touts!

If the individual looks nice enough and has 1 or 2 tickets rather than 20, and is willing to sell it at market price, or even cheaper, then go for it!

  • WATCH YOUR THROAT: After watching quite a few films, the throat does tend to take a bit of a beating as the rooms can get a bit dry, so arm yourself with water and cough drops. Take a scarf too, in case the air-con is at full blast!
A film industry and press-only conference – Isle of Dogs – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
A film industry and press-only conference – Isle of Dogs – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • PRESS: If you’re a press person, you should have been through the accreditation process and looking forward to picking up your badge and Berlinale gift bag!

Last year, a dedicated Press Screening Guide was made available. And was a godsend!

It’s proving to be the same in 2019!

The press screening guide has information about press screenings, and other events that are available to accredited journalists and media representatives.

And I used the Press Screening Guide to the full!

Nevertheless, even press people have to organise themselves, as film tickets are only made available one (1) day prior, and so I found myself checking into the Grand Hyatt Berlin on a daily basis!

At 08:00 in the morning.

Eeek!

After a hard day at the Berlinale, surely I deserve a glass of champagne! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

On the other hand, free water, free coffee (Ouch!) free WiFi, a press room, comfy seats, and a quick means of getting all the press stuff and press tickets that you need, are provided.

Everyone is always so helpful and kind because I’m now a pro!

I usually manage to get 99% of the film tickets that I want. However, on the very last film festival day, I sometimes end up buying tickets from my own pocket at the cinema box office, as press tickets are sometimes in limited supply, especially if I really, really, really want to watch something!

All in all, I pretty much get every film ticket that I want.

Thank you Berlinale Press Team!

Vai – NATIVe 2019 at the Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival
© New Zealand Film Commission
  • BE OPEN TO A NEW EXPERIENCE: I love going to film festivals and one of the main reasons is that in many cases, the films that you get to see at such events will never be shown at regular cinemas, or ever at all!

I mean, I hardly doubt that a weird film about a businessman who’s so burnt out, that he spends 14 days eating apples in a monastery in Burma, a mother and daughter who spend all day screaming at each other in Beijing, a black and white film about illegitimate foster children in 1920’s Germany, or an old couple who also happen to be traditional reindeer hunters, living all alone in the North Pole, is going to be shown at a local cinema near you!

I really don’t think so!

In my case, I aim for weird Asian films, obscure East European films, Anglo-American films with controversial topics, German films with a twist, and films over issues that I would never usually go for, ‘cos they’re just not shown at your local flick!

Kislota | Acid by Alexander Gorchilin – Panorama 2019 – Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival
© Studio SLON / Kislota
  • STAY FOR Q&A: The beauty of an international film festival or any film festival at all, is that everyone tends to be there.

You get stars such as Christian Bale (Batman / American Psycho), Martin Freeman (Sherlock Holmes), Diane Kruger, Catherine Deneuve, Bill Nighy, James Norton, Stellan Skarsgård (Pirates of the Caribbean / Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again ), Casey Affleck, Jonah Hill, Jamie Bell (King Kong), Tilda Swinton, Juliette Binoche, Trudie Styler (wife of Sting), Moritz Bleibtreu, Peter Sarsgaard (husband of Maggie Gyllenhaal), Die Toten Hosen, Peter Lindbergh.

And directors such as Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Idris Elba (Luther), Rupert Everett (The Importance of Being Earnest), Steven Soderbergh (the Ocean’s Trilogy), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), as well as other other directors, producers, and actors.

In fact, everyone!

Helena Bonham Carter sat behind me at the Berlinale,and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

A few years ago, Helena Bonham Carter sat behind me and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!

Actors, directors and producers tend to go out to the front and apart from staring at them really closely, you can ask them questions about their films or their thoughts surrounding that film. And being that this is Berlin, everyone’s really chilled and not freaking out, or going crazy!

Not inside the cinema theatre in any case.

The gorgeous Idris Elba at the Berlinale – the Berlin International Film Festival – Director – Yardie 2018. You can just about see my pink phone cover!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
And here’s the very same photo I took of Idris Elba – Director of Yardie – Zoo Palast – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

If there’s a hottie on the red carpet like George Clooney, Robert Pattinson, Idris Elba, or Natalie Dormer, all that flies out of the window, and people start screaming!

I mean, it sometimes goes insane.

Natalie Dormer was here to promote Picnic at Hanging Rock, & all I could think of was Game of Thrones!
© Thomas Lobenwein – Berlinale Series

The actors are always calm, professional and charming (especially George, Robert, Idris, & Natalie. We’re on first name basis now of course!) but the audience just lose themselves with star-lust, over-whelmingness, or the fact that film premier tickets can sell out surprisingly quickly, and not be found for love or money.

If you didn’t know somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody way up there, chances were, you wouldn’t get a look in!

The atmosphere once you get indoors, really is comforting and quite frankly, it’s nice.

Helen Mirren at the Berlinale. Because anyone who matters is here!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

And all for the price of a cinema ticket.

Less in some cases!

  • MAKE FRIENDS: Chat to the person next to you.

Find your friends and partners and go for a well deserved late night drink!

We’re so chilled in Berlin. Bring your beer in at the Kino Casablanca. And make friends!
Berlinale Goes Kiez -© Peter Kreibich
  • TAKE ACTION: Now that you know what to do, go ahead and get yourself a film ticket, and do it all over again the next day!

See you at the Berlinale!

A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE 69TH BERLINALE. YES! THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019 IS FINALLY HERE!

Joaquin Phoenix at the Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival – Competition – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot 2018
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

This article is not sponsored and even though I receive press tickets, all opinions and the brilliant festival films that I choose, are my very, very own!

It’s February!

I’m going to be on German TV again!

I went to Norway. Watch out for the details!

I’ll be continuing my How To Visit India posts in February / March!

I’ll be at the 69th Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival taking place between 07.02.19 – 17.02.19, everyone who is anyone will be in Berlin!

Will you?

Save the Date!

February is delightfully rushed!

Catch me if you can!

How I went to 8 exciting countries, went to India, lost my luggage & got trapped and confused in Delhi!

Watch this space!

Please note that there are two affiliate link companies connected to this post! Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

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!

Let’s get ready for the Berlinale!

Thanks a million!

A Beginners’ Guide to the 69th Berlinale. Yes! The Berlin International Film Festival 2019 is finally here!

Have you ever been to a film festival? What actor would you like to see on the Red Carpet? Are you excited? Let me know!

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

A Beginners’ Guide to the Berlinale / The Berlin International Film Festival 2018. Or any other Film Festival!!

Ed Sheeran at the Berlinale – Songwriter
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

OMG!

It’s a little late, but since you’ve all been using my previous posts to get started, I don’t feel in the least bit guilty, ‘cos I’ve been on the go!

Go!

Go!!

I’ve told you before and I’ll probably tell you a million times over, living in Berlin is awfully fabulous!

I mean, there’s just so much to do!

I haven’t been back to Manchester for quite some time!

Only a few weeks ago I was telling you all about how I could afford to travel all over Europe, and using the train no less, as well as rambling through the English countryside, floating through Berlin Fashion Week, rushing through Bruges in Belgium, gaining Dual Citizenship ‘cos I’m a real British-German now, preparing for India, and exploring Hamburg on a press trip!

And just the other week, the Sputnik Kino put out all the stops to bring us the British Shorts Film Festival too!

Book your hotel here!

Robert Pattinson at the Berlinale – Damsel – What a sexy gorgeous bloke!
© Gerhard Kassner / Berlinale

And now, ladies and gents, the red carpet has been rolled out yet again, and Berlin has been hobnobbing with the best of the best. I mean, if it’s good enough for Bill Murray, Helen Mirren and Robert Pattinson. It’s surely good enough for you!

And why forsooth?

Because?

Because the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, is in town!

Now for those of you interested in getting a piece of the action it’s quite easy.

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE?

My press pass & bag at the Berlinale
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

Well, the Berlinale is simply, the world’s largest public film festival which provides an audience of interested film-goers, a city full of excitement, a diverse cultural scene, fascinating new films, up and coming artists, and an opportunity to see, talk to, and take close-up pictures, of international stars in the movie world!

The public programme of the Berlinale shows about 400 films per year, mostly international or European premieres of every genre, length and format! Formats such as epic international cinema (Competition), independent art house (Panorama), films for a younger audience (Generation), new discoveries and promising talent from the German film scene (Perspektive Deutsches Kino), avant-garde, experimental cinematography (Forum / Forum Expanded), “exotic” cinema from the Weimar Republic / post World War I historical black and white documentary filming (Retrospective), film classics / rediscovered films (Berlinale Classics), cult films curated by the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen (Homage), films about food (Culinary Cinema), art house cinemas within Berlin (Berlinale Goes Kiez), cinematic story-telling of Indigenous people around the world (NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema), new and extraordinary productions via the honouring of influential cinema personalities, and short pieces (Berlinale Shorts).

The Berlin International Film Festival is a source of inspiration in the global film community, encouraging the influx of film programmes, workshops, panel discussions, joint projects, and other creative outlets and networking possibilities via the European Film Market (EFM), the Berlinale Co-Production Market, the Berlinale Talents which introduces high-profile professionals to 250 promising young international film makers, the World Cinema Fund (WCF) which provides financial support to film projects in countries with weak film infrastructure, and the Berlinale Residency programme which offers international directors, financial support and funding to live in Berlin for a few months, and to start their next film project.

Yeah baby!

Book your hotel here!

Victoria & Wes Anderson. And a lady who accidentally photo-bombed us! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

And with more than:

  • 334,000 sold tickets
  • 21,000 professional visitors
  • 127 countries
  • 3,700 journalists
  • Art
  • Glamour
  • Parties
  • Networking
  • The Business of Film-Making

 

I’m actually in the video above. This was the first “star” Press Conference at the Berlinale, and I’m standing right behind the journalist who asked Bryan Cranston that super interesting question!

You simply can’t go wrong!

That’s right.

From the 15th of February to the 25th February, 2018, Berlin will be packed solid, with members of the film industry.

My heart swells and is almost fit to bursting, when I know that Berlin is competing with the likes of other film festivals, in Cannes, and Sundance.

Alright, not in the same category, but still.

In my opinion, a festival to be proud of!

With more than four hundred (400) films, fifteen (15) categories sections, and more than half a million cinema visits, the Berlinale is not only an independent film festival with a difference, but also a film festival that ordinary people can actually visit.

Book your hotel here!

Ordinary punters at the Berlinale. You know. People like YOU!
© Peter Kreibich – Berlinale Goes Kiez

Yes, that means YOU!

A world international festival can sometimes be daunting, so I’m going to try and make it as easy as possible, so that you too can participate. If you want to!

Read my beginners’ guide and find out how!

A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE BERLINALE / THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2018! OR ANY OTHER FILM FESTIVAL!!

Punters waiting to see Bill Murray & other stars, so be prepared & wrap up warmly!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
  • BE PREPARED: The Berlinale always takes place in February so get yourself on the mailing list of the Berlinale, so that you know when the official Berlinale programme is published.
  • USE THE INTERNET: There is a Berlinale homepage in both English and German. On the homepage is a Programme Section which also has a most valuable item called the programme planner. Use this item to search for films so that you have an idea of what you might want to see BEFORE the film festival begins.
Search for a programme at the Berlinale
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • GET THE PROGRAMME: If you’re not entirely sure what each film is about, you can either download the pdf format or if you’re in Berlin (and why wouldn’t you be!), you can pretty much find the programme brochures / publications in every cinema forum in the city. It’s free of charge. Just help yourself!
  • USE TECHNOLOGY: Not only can you use the programme planner for your personal searches but you can also get into the 21st century and, for the first time ever, download the Apps (for Android and iOS) which links into the programme planner so that you can mark your favourite film or event at home, or on the move, and still remain up-to-date across multiple devices. The app also provides Berlinale information about Press Conferences and Photo Calls, festival venues, festival events and an overview of festival video broadcasts, the Opening and Closing Gala, as well as all the fun on the Red Carpet!

Relax & check my social media feed about the Berlinale, on Twitter & Facebook!

  • USE SOCIAL MEDIA: The Berlinale is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube – #Berlinale. You can also follow my Twitter titbits and little quips here! Not only that, but around the Potsdamer Platz Arcade, WiFi is available for 2 hours per day per person, and there are other WiFi hotspots scattered around in various venues. For free!
  • MAKE A LIST: Once you have a rough idea of what you want to see, go ahead and make a list. Don’t forget to put the date, the name of the film in it’s original language and in English, the venue, and the time. Then make a second list with different films. Just in case.
  • And a third one too!
Look at the packed crowd for the World Premiere of The Bookshop, at Friedrichstadt-Palast. Aim to arrive early!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • CHECK THE FILM TIME: People get really excited when punters finally get the film of their dream and then discover soon after, that they can’t actually watch it, ‘cos they’re still at a previous showing! Just because the film states a starting time of 20:00 doesn’t actually mean that it’s going to start at 20:00! Films start late, discussions over lap. Deal with it!

I find that putting films three (3) hours apart generally leaves more than enough room to manoeuvre. So, if for example, a film starts at 09:30, the next film I book is at 12:30 and not anything less! Most films tend to last between 80 and 100 minutes but you want to give yourself time for overlaps, and also for getting from A to B. Berlin’s public transport system is fantastic but you still have to wade your way through the crowds to get out of the venue itself, and then go downstairs to your next train station, not to talk of wading yourself through more crowds, at the next film venue!

  • LEAVE EARLY: Doors generally open 10 – 15 minutes before the film starts, so make sure you’re in the queue at least 20 minutes before the movie begins. If it’s a popular film, give yourself 30 minutes, as there is no allocated seating. First come, first served n’ all that!

No seat is a dud in my opinion, but if you have preferred seating, or want to get comfy with the new plush seats available in some cinema venues, then get there early.

Get your Berlinale film tickets in person!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

This means that you’re going to have to gird your loins, get all your mates together and be smart and efficient. Each individual can only buy 2 tickets per film, except for Generation (children / youth films) which you can buy 4 tickets at a time, and Culinary Cinema film screenings at 19:30, and you can buy as many as you like!

You can of course, cross your fingers and buy on the day if tickets are available at the box office of the cinemas themselves. Ticket counters open daily from 10:00 to 20:00, with people forming a queue from as early as 08:00!

Oh, and don’t forget.

For Same-Day tickets, only hard cash is accepted!

If you don't feel up to being with the rabble, not a problem, use your fingers and go online to buy tickets at the Berlinale instead!
If you don’t feel up to being with the rabble, not a problem, use your fingers and go online to buy tickets at the Berlinale instead!
  • BUYING TICKETS ONLINE: If you don’t feel up to being with the hoi polloi, not a problem, use your fingers and go online instead! On the programme page is an online ticket icon. If you click on it, you’ll be directed to the online ticket shop but be warned, the other buyers are keen film-goers and pros. at this game. You’ll need firm fingers to keep clicking and refreshing, in order to get those tickets. Or better still, allocate yourself an army of friends to help you.

You know how concert tickets sell out in 10 minutes? Yep! They use the same method. Friends! Mates! Neighbours! Everyone you know!

Grab a few friends to help you buy your Berlinale ticket!
Grab a few friends to help you buy your Berlinale ticket!

If you click on the Online Tickets icon, you will automatically be forwarded to the website of the Berlinale ticketing partner – Eventim. You’ll have to create an Eventim account with an extra processing fee of €2.00 per ticket. You can also use a major credit card and the tickets will be delivered to you either by Email, on your mobile phone, or you can simply pick the tickets up at the Online Ticket Pick-up Counter in the Potsdamer Platz Arcade shopping centre, by showing your printed confirmation and some sort of ID card.

There’s also an exclusive ticket counter, only for punters with MasterCard!

Book your hotel here!

Berlinale ticket prices are very reasonable! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • TICKET PRICES: Berlinale tickets are generally between €4.00 – €20.00! A 50% discount is available for selected last-minute tickets and of course, if you’re a student, of school age, on welfare, etc, then a 50% discount on tickets are available too.

If you register by telephone for Generation tickets, groups of at least 5 people or more, can buy their tickets at a cost of just €2.50 each!

Roll up! Roll up! Queue up & come & get your ticket!
© Peter Kreibich – Berlinale Goes Kiez
  • NO TICKET: If you still haven’t got the ticket you want, then go ahead and get any other film ticket instead!

The whole point of a film festival are the intriguing films that are made available. Every film has passed muster, and outside of your own personal preference, none of the films are duds.

Go on live a little!

If you’re still unsure, then go to the venue of your choice and either hold out a sign that you’re looking for an extra ticket, or look for individuals who might want to sell theirs. Don’t deal with touts though. If the individual looks nice enough and has 1 or 2 tickets rather than 20, and is willing to sell it at market price, or even cheaper, then go for it!

  • WATCH YOUR THROAT: After watching quite a few films, the throat does tend to take a bit of a beating as the rooms can get a bit dry, so arm yourself with water and cough drops. Take a scarf too, in case the air-con is at full blast!
A film industry and press-only conference – Isle of Dogs – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
A film industry and press-only conference – Isle of Dogs – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • PRESS: If you’re a press person, you should have been through the accreditation process and have your badge and Berlinale gift bag!

This year, a dedicated Press Screening Guide was made available. And it has been a godsend!

The press brochure / guide has information about press screenings, and other events that are available to accredited journalists and media representatives.

And I used the Press Screening Guide to the full!

Nevertheless, even press people have to organise themselves, as film tickets are only made available one (1) day prior, and so I found myself checking into the Grand Hyatt Berlin on a daily basis!

At 08:00 in the morning. Eeek!

Book your Berlin hotel here!

After a hard day at the Berlinale, surely I deserve a glass of champagne! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

On the other hand, free water, free coffee (Ouch!) free WiFi, a press room, comfy seats, and a quick means of getting all the press stuff and press tickets that you need, are provided.

Everyone has been so helpful and kind and because I’m now a pro. I also managed to get 99% of the film tickets that I wanted. However, on the very last film festival day, I ended up buying another ticket at the cinema box office, as press tickets were in limited supply, and I really wanted to watch the Generation 14+ film – Adam!

All in all, I pretty much got every film ticket that I wanted.

Thank you Berlinale Press Team!

River’s Edge by Isao Yukisada – Fumi Nikaidou & Ryo Yoshizawa
© River’s Edge Film Partners, TAKARAJIMASHA / Kyoko Okazaki
  • BE OPEN TO A NEW EXPERIENCE: I love going to film festivals and one of the main reasons is that in many cases, the films that you get to see at such events will never be shown at regular cinemas, or ever at all!

I mean, I hardly doubt that a weird film about a businessman who’s so burnt out, that he spends 14 days eating apples in a monastery in Burma, a mother and daughter who spend all day screaming at each other in Beijing, a black and white film about illegitimate foster children in 1920’s Germany, or an old couple who also happen to be traditional reindeer hunters, living all alone in the North Pole, is going to be shown at a local cinema near you!

I really don’t think so!

In my case, I aim for weird Asian films, obscure East European films, Anglo-American films with controversial topics, German films with a twist, and films over issues that I would never usually go for, ‘cos they’re just not shown at your local flick!

Ága by Milko Lazarov – Feodosia Ivanova & Mikhail Aprosimov
© Kaloyan Bozhilov
  • STAY FOR Q&A: The beauty of an international film festival or any film festival at all, is that everyone tends to be there. You get stars such as Bill Murray, Helen Mirren, Jeff Goldblum, Emily Watson, Bill Nighy, Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), Robert Pattinson, Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom), Joaquin Phoenix, Rosamund Pike, Jim Broadbent, Tilda Swinton, Daniel Brühl, Mia Wasikowska, Liev Schreiber, Hugo Weaving and Ed Sheeran. Directors such as Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Idris Elba (Luther), Rupert Everett (The Importance of Being Earnest), Steven Soderbergh (the Ocean’s Trilogy), and other directors, producers, and actors.

In fact, everyone!

Helena Bonham-Carter sat behind me at the Berlinale,and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

Four years ago, Helena Bonham-Carter sat behind me and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!

Actors, directors and producers tend to go out to the front and apart from staring at them really closely, you can ask them questions about their films or their thoughts, surrounding that film. And being that this is Berlin, everyone’s really chilled and not freaking out, or going crazy!

Not inside the cinema theatre in any case.

Idris Elba – Director of Yardie – Zoo Palast – Berlinale
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

If there’s a hottie on the red carpet like George Clooney, Richard Gere, Idris Elba, or Natalie Dormer, all that flies out of the window, and people start screaming!

I mean, it sometimes goes insane.

Natalie Dormer was here to promote Picnic at Hanging Rock, & all I could think of was Game of Thrones!
© Thomas Lobenwein – Berlinale Series

The actors are always calm, professional and charming (especially George, Richard, Idris, & Natalie. We’re on first name basis now of course..!) but the audience just lose themselves with star-lust, over-whelmingness, or the fact that film premier tickets can sell out surprisingly quickly, and not be found for love or money. If you didn’t know somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody, way up there, chances were, you wouldn’t get a look in!

The atmosphere once you get indoors, really is comforting and quite frankly, it’s nice.

Helen Mirren at the Berlinale. Because anyone who matters is here!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

And all for the price of a cinema ticket.

Less in some cases!

  • MAKE FRIENDS: Chat to the person next to you. Find your friends and partners and go for a well deserved late night drink!
We’re so chilled in Berlin. Bring your beer in at the Kino Casablanca. And make friends!
Berlinale Goes Kiez -© Peter Kreibich
  • TAKE ACTION: Now that you know what to do, go ahead and get yourself a film ticket, and do it all over again the next day!

See you at the Berlinale!

A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE BERLINALE / THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2018! OR ANY OTHER FILM FESTIVAL!!

Willem Dafoe receiving his Homage – Honorary Golden Bear Award at the Berlinale
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

This article is not sponsored and even though I received press tickets, all opinions and the brilliant festival films that I chose, are my very, very own!

It’s February!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be reviewing the films that I saw at the Berlinale.

February is enjoyably rushed!

Catch me if you can!

Visitors and members of the press at the Berlinale
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

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!

A Beginners’ Guide to the Berlinale / The Berlin International Film Festival 2018. Or any other Film Festival!!

Have you ever been to a film festival? What actor would you like to see on the Red Carpet? Let me know!

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!

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

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

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

You really couldn’t make it up.

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

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

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

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

It deserves a second chance.

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

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

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

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

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

Moventis, Sarfa.

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

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

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

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

shutterstock-92810047-zob

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

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

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

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

Train & Bus tickets in Barcelona, Spain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the cost?

€5.00!

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

And then I looked around.

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

No tour guide!

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

No umbrella person.

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

Nothing!

Sigh!

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

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

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

Yep! She was a blogger – Luxe Travel Family.

A fellow TBEX EUROPE blogger.

Hurrah! I’m not in Kansas anymore Toto!

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

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

Hurrah, for TBEX EUROPE bloggers.

But wait. Where was our guide?

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

Yeeeeeah!

So we called up.

Yep! We used the telephone LOL!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barcelona, Spain.

Now this is being in Barcelona!

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

Si!

So let’s have some history:

BARCELONA

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

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

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

Barcelona, Spain.

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

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

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

 THE GOTHIC QUARTER AND GRACIA AND THE SPIRIT OF CATALAN INDEPENDENCE

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

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

We certainly did.

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

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

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

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

FC Barcelona.
FC Barcelona.

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

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

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

Barcelona, Spain.

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

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

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

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

Iberico ham.
Iberico ham.

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

Here are ten (10) reasons why:

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

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

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

I loved my day out and found Barcelona utterly charming!

Barcelona, Spain.

Here are the details:

WHAT IS CONTEXT TRAVEL?

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

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

My type of people then!

WHAT IS THE GOTHIC QUARTER TOUR ABOUT?

Barcelona, Spain.

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

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

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

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

Phew!

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND SPANISH?

Nope!

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

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

WHAT DO I NEED?

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

ANYTHING ELSE?

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

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

MY VERDICT:

Barcelona, Spain.

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

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

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

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

See you in Stockholm, 2016.

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

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

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

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

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

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

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

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

May is going to be exciting.

Watch this space!

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

 

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

See you in Berlin.

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

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!