How I got scammed in Berlin!

How I got scammed in Berlin!

It’s summer!

And that means going on holiday/vacation.

I don’t know about you, but as soon as the sun comes out, my brain begins to fry and I’m not as alert as I ought to be.

As you know, I’ve been living in Berlin for more than seventeen (17) years, and it really is one of the best cities ever.

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

But it wasn’t always that way!

Yep!

My beloved Berlin used to be quite a different place back in the 90’s.

Back in the day, I used to go to the Love Parade every summer, and electronic techno clubs Berghain and Tresor practically every weekend!

In fact, the gentrified areas of Mitte and Prenzlauerberg in East Berlin (where I live) today, were quite trashy, horrifying, and in some places, even dangerous!

Hence, I lived in arty, grungy, student, alternative Kreuzberg in West Berlin.

Love conquers all. We had controlled rent, but we didn’t have a bathroom in Berlin!

My boyfriend and I lived in a huge rent-controlled apartment near the river.

It didn’t have a bathroom.

It didn’t have any heating.

Hauling up steel-buckets of coal every week in Berlin, wasn’t as romantic as this!
Hauling up steel-buckets of coal in Berlin, was more like this!

And I had to haul up steel-buckets of coal every week!

It was worth it though ‘cos we were living in a 19th century building, and my share of the rent in those days, was a mere €17.00 per week!

It took me just six (6) weeks to get a well-paid teaching job, and six (6) months later, I was the Head of not one Corporate Language School, but two (2)!

One day, I went to the bank to pick up some money for a summer-BBQ party that I was organising for all our schools in Berlin at the time, and on that day, I got scammed!

HOW I GOT SCAMMED IN BERLIN!

Scammers are everywhere through Europe!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

Woah there.

Tell us what happened?

I’m coming to it.

Hold your horses!

Well, I made a few mistakes that day, and really, I shouldn’t have been so gullible.

But I was.

MISTAKE NUMBER 1:

I went to the bank & collected loads of Deutsche Marks!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

I went to the bank, collected 500 Deutsche Marks or about €1,000. (Yep. it’s that long ago!) And then decided to go into “town” a mere 10 minutes away from my establishment.

I should have gone straight back to the office instead!

MISTAKE NUMBER 2:

Most sane people would run away. I walked towards it instead!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

I saw a large crowd gathering at the town square of East Berlin’s most popular tourist attraction – Alexanderplatz. And went to investigate what people were looking at.

Most sane people would run away if they saw a crowd.

I tend to do the opposite, and walk towards it!

I should have just kept on walking!

MISTAKE NUMBER 3:

There were some men playing a sort of cup game, where if you guessed right, you win!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

There were a group of men playing a sort of cup game, where if you guess which cup the dice or ball is under, you win.

I should have just minded my own business!

MISTAKE NUMBER 4:

I stopped to watch other tourists and lost all my cash!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

I stopped to watch the other “tourists” playing and “winning.” Each and every “tourist” that played won. I thought it would be a laugh, and I could easily “win” too!

To be honest, I don’t even know why I even bothered, as I’m not the gambling type.

I don’t play cards or games for money.

I don’t play scratch-cards.

I don’t play slot machines.

I don’t play bingo.

I don’t even play the lottery.

And I’m not in the habit of “playing” with my money.

I’m far too stingy!

The cost for each “go” was 50 Deutsche Marks or €100!

I gave the man the money.

And I lost it!

I should have just taken it as a done thing, and gone back to my office.

MISTAKE NUMBER 5:

I had quite a bit of cash in my purse. And lost that too!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

I didn’t.

I’m arrogant and stubborn.

I was so convinced that it was a “game” and that I could beat them.

I decided to “play” again.

I had quite a bit of cash in my purse, so I gave the man another 50 Deutsche Marks or €100!

I lost that too!

100 Deutsche-Mark banknote or €200 – © 2016 – 2018 Bank Note World

I was quite annoyed and convinced that something was up as I had looked quite closely, and didn’t take my eyes off the “cup.”

Now I’m not mad enough to spend more money, as that cash wasn’t really mine, and I would have to replace it once I got back.

And 100 Deutsche Marks or €200 was still quite a lot of money!

So I stuck around.

And watched really carefully.

And then I saw it.

I’m not entirely sure how it’s done. But what a scam!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

The “tourists” who had “won,” weren’t tourists at all!

They were friends and mates of the game organisers and were involved with scamming pretty much each and every legitimate tourist.

Not only that, but the guy issuing the cups somehow kept the ball in his hands so that all the cups were empty!

And if, like myself, you insist the cups be checked as evidence that the ball was actually still under one of the cups, the guy then dropped the ball under the cup, in the same motion as lifting it up!

I’m not entirely sure how it’s done.

But what a scam!

I protested, and asked for my money back, but they insisted that I leave their space.

And like I said, Alexanderplatz was a rough place in those days and I still had 400 Deutsche Marks or €800 in my purse, so just to be sure that I wasn’t being followed, I took a taxi back!

What an idiot and a fool I was!

And that was how I lost 100 Deutsche Marks or €200, just like that!

HOW I GOT SCAMMED IN BERLIN!

Images of Berlin Alexanderplatz.
How I got scammed in Berlin!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and stupidity, are my very own!

Stay tuned.

Yay!

That’s it for now.

For more of what to do if you’ve been scammed, and how to avoid it in the future, follow my blog!

You might be well-travelled, but you can still be scammed!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

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 I got scammed in Berlin!

Have you ever been scammed? Do you think I’m an idiot? 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But why?

Why the train?

Why not fly?

Why not fly?
Why not fly?

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

And then again. Perhaps not!

But the fact remains.

I live in Berlin.

In Germany.

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

And Germany is right in the center of Europe.

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

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

Book your hotel here!

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

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

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

Me!
Me!

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

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

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

WHY TRAVEL BY TRAIN IN EUROPE?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His fare was completely and utterly free.

Yep!

Free of charge.

Nada!

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

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

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

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

Book your hotel here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book your hotel here!

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

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

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

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

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

All the better!

So now to the real McCoy!

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

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

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

1.  Get a train ticket:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.  Check online for best routes:

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

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

3.  Do your research:

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

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

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

Book your hotel here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information check here.

5.  Reserve your seat:

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

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

Believe me. Don’t do that!

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

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

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

But they can cope. Can you?

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

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

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

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

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

6.  Take some refreshments with you:

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

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

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

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

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

7.  Talk to the locals:

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

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

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

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

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

8.  Be prepared:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Er No!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmm!

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

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

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

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

OK. I’ll get off at the next stop!

Oh, I’ve missed that too!

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

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

We got off the train.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s January!

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re not in Berlin in January, it’s a darn shame!

January is going to be dramatic!

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

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

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

See you in Berlin.

If you 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!

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

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

It’s been a rough few weeks.

The citizens of France are in a state of shock.

The world is in a dreadful state.

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

We're not leaving!
We’re not leaving!

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

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

Uggggh!

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

Just what is the world coming to?

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

It’s sad.

I’m in shock.

And I’m just so sad.

The terrorist attacks have struck my continent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’M SCARED TO TRAVEL ABROAD!

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

You don’t need to be.

However!

I’ll tell you something for nothing.

We Europeans are as stoic as we come.

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

We’re not strangers to attacks.

Or threats.

Or war.

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

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

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

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

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

The point I’m trying to make is:

DON’T LET FEAR TAKE CONTROL

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

Walk outside your front door.

Drive your car.

Get on that train.

Take a flight.

Sail on a ship.

Take a step at a time.

Don’t let fear take control!

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

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

Sure it is!

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

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

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

Don’t panic remember:

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

Crime rates in many countries are low.

Standards of living are high.

Education is free, therefore literacy is high.

Many Europeans speak at least three languages.

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

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

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

Social infrastructure works wonderfully and is available to all.

Tolerance is extremely high.

Fairness and truth are important.

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

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

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

Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign!

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

Yes, that time is soon nigh.

Summer baby!

Get ready for…..

Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign!

European Challenge what?!

Oh. Cooooome. On!

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

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

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

Every weekend!

For six (6) weeks!

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

And.

Get this.

We’re going to be travelling completely by train!

OMG!

WHERE ARE WE GOING?

Copenhagen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eeeek!

Lucerne:

Lucerne in Switzerland
Lucerne in Switzerland

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shock & Horror!

I’ve never actually been!

Mainly ‘cos it’s frightfully expensive!!

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

Gulp!

Luxembourg:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow!

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

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

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

Bratislava:

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

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

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

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

As lovely as Prague!
As lovely as Prague!

Yipee!

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

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

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

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

Germany:

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

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

Bremen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gulp!

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

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

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

Usedom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes! Yes! Yes!

ANYTHING ELSE?

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

I live in Berlin.

In Germany.

And Germany is right in the center of Europe.

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

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

We’re going to be travelling by train!

See you next week!

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

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

July is Pride Week!

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

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

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

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

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

Save the Date!

July is going to be hot!

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

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

Watch this space!

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

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!

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

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

See you in Berlin.

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

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