How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!

You have to take action to get it!!
You have to take action to get it!!

It’s 2017 and it’s January. At the beginning of every new year, it’s the norm to think about what you did last year and what you’re going to do this year.

Last year, I travelled to 10 counties. 10 countries!

However did I do that?

My husband - The Music Producer and I in Milan - Italy.
My husband – The Music Producer and I in Milan – Italy.

I’m not a multi-millionaire. Neither is my husband!

I didn’t win the lottery.

I didn’t quit my job.

I didn’t change my lifestyle.

I didn’t throw my one and only child into boarding school.

I didn’t re-locate to a warmer (cheaper) climate.

I didn’t sell my stuff!

The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” - Fixing bikes. As boys do!
The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” – Fixing bikes. As boys do!

So how did I do it?

Well, if you look at my About Me page, you will see that I am married, I have a son, and I have a job as a School Vice – Principal / Social Media Manager in Berlin, as well as this wonderful lifestyle, travel, expat blog!

What I mean to say is that I live a normal life. Just like you.

I’m married, in a relationship with someone, or have been single. Just like you.

I have family responsibilities. Just like you.

I have a full-time job. Just like you.

And by god. I have a daily budget. Absolutely, just like you.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" in Switzerland!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” in Switzerland!

And yet.

And yet…..

There was something that I did differently that might have been slightly the opposite of you.

I wanted to travel to more destinations last year, and I did.

Me at the Grotto in the Algarve - Portugal!
Me at the Grotto in the Algarve – Portugal!

I wanted to get on that plane and go to the Philippines. I wanted to visit a Chinese-speaking country. I wanted to give Spain another chance, so we went to other parts of Spain. In fact, we loved the region so much, that we added a week to Portugal as well! I wanted to take that train to Switzerland, so we did. OMG! “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I were spending money over the summer, as if it were going out of fashion, so we decided to invest in sandwiches, salad and cake whilst travelling to Luxembourg. We sort of missed our transport in Denmark, and had to buy a new ticket in Copenhagen. Again!

We were desperate to travel through the peak season of the summer holidays, so we used all the summer weekends!

We took the long-distance-inter-country-night-train.

From Berlin.

Book your hotel here!

"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!

I’m totally mad! But I did it anyway LOL!

The point I’m making is that you don’t have to do anything drastic if you want to afford a life of travel.

You don’t have to choose between having it all and having nothing at all, and you definitely don’t have to quit your lifestyle!

I'm looking gorgeous in the Philippines! ©Scott Herder - BoboandChiChi.com
I’m looking gorgeous in the Philippines!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

I’m living proof of that.

Oh yes, I’ve done my GAP year, and my backpacking era. I’ve slept in a casino, I’ve been in a hostel where not 1 but 2 complete strangers, were sleeping on my €2 /$3 per night bed! I’ve been to Scotland where my B&B (which I had already paid for mind you), had completely disappeared. Completely! I’ve booked hotels in Italy and couldn’t remember the name of our 5-star historical hotel. (thankfully, I remembered where I first saw it. In the New York Times)! I had an awful time in Barcelona, had two flight delays and ended up having to spend the complete night at the airport as my final destination was two (2) hours away, and there was no transport that could take me there!

Heck! I even missed my flight to Qatar and had to go to Korea instead!

I’ve adjusted my travelling style over time according to my circumstances, who I’m travelling with, my budget, and my mood!

And let me tell you. I’m not 20 anymore so those fleapit hostels, motels, cheap-I-don’t-wanna-know-who-slept-here-previously are definitely now gone!

Yes, I’m going to keep an eye on my hard-working money, but no, I’m no longer going to be sharing a room with 20 people, 10 people or even 5 other people!

Book your hotel here!

Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.
Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.

Nope!

Those days were fun, but they’re over.

Absolutely.

I think!!

So book your hotel here!

This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous hotel / hostel prices in Copenhagen. I really couldn't justify the cost!
This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous hotel / hostel prices in Copenhagen. I really couldn’t justify the cost!

In short, I’m enormously happy to go to hostels and we went to quite a few last year, but we paid that little bit extra for two (2) private rooms (since our child is a teenager and a great traveller too), privacy, calmness, and security. We also went to fancy hotel resorts and even slept in an antiquated classical castle, on the German seaside!

So, how can you have it all?

If you’re under 25 years old, you don’t need it all, and that’s the darn truth!

Book your hostel with free cancellation. Here!

Get yourself a backpack for motivation, work hard, then take a gap year!
Get yourself a backpack for motivation, work hard, then take a gap year!

Get yourself a backpack, work for a couple of months in a local shop, pub, or business. Take a gap year before university or after university, in the summer, in the winter, or whatever, and whenever, have about €1,000 / $1,000 or £1,000 at the initial stage. and you’re good to go!

I’m not talking about an around-the-world trip here or flight costs, just the old let’s-see-how-far-this-money-will-take me scenario. Grab an old car, grab a few friends, and off you go. If you’re in Europe, stay on the continent and do a road trip. Ditto the Americas. But my goodness, the USA is good for the greatest roadtrip of your life. If you’re in Asia, you’re gonna have a thrilling great time.

And when it’s over, it’s over!

You come back, buckle down, save up, and then do it again.

Properly!

Grab a few friends, and off you go. You're gonna have a thrilling great time!
Grab a few friends, and off you go. You’re gonna have a thrilling great time!

Now for those of you over 25 years old with jobs, families, responsibilities, and crossroads in front of you, do what I do.

I live life to the full, I work hard at my office and on my blog, and I get creative.

Yes, creative.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" having fun in Bangkok.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.
  • Our son is 14 years old which means I can’t travel in the low season. Just like you.

What do I do?

I book ahead. Far ahead!

In 2012, we went on a 3 week trip to Tuscany. In August!

I know. I know. I forgot it was going to be boiling. Don’t judge me!

Anyway, I took out a map, planned the places that we wanted to go and started doing research and contacting hostels, hotels, villas and castles. Yes, castles. And the most we paid for our 300-year-old-5-star-hotel-in-Pisa-on-the-river was €52.00 per day. For 2 rooms, en-suite including breakfast! For the 3 of us LOL!

We started planning in 2011.

Book your hotel here!

Ouch! I'm still smiling. I'm still smiling! Even though there's a monkey on my head in Bali! Photo @Frank Böster
Ouch! I’m still smiling. I’m still smiling! Even though there’s a monkey on my head in Bali!
Photo @Frank Böster

In 2014, we went to four (4) destinations outside Europe where we live. We went to Thailand, Indonesia, Qatar, and Korea. We started planning it in 2012.

In 2015, we went to the Baltic regions of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. Actually, we took a ferry to Helsinki, but still! Anyway, we took a bus-coach. The journey took us 26 hours, and we were knackered and exhausted, but we didn’t die!

We started planning it in 2014.

In 2016, I went back to Asia, but our family trips were firmly based in Europe. Brexit or not! We went to Spain, Portgual, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and other parts of Germany.

Again, planning started in 2015, and all were in consideration of the school holidays!

So book your hotel sooner rather than later. Right here!

The outcome of Brexit was crazy, but it shouldn't stop you travelling! @Visit England - Rich J Jones
The outcome of Brexit was crazy, but it shouldn’t stop you travelling!
@Visit England – Rich J Jones
  • If you live in Europe, you get a minimum of 24 holidays per year and between 11-15 public holidays on top of that. That makes 35 days. Many get more! If you start your holidays on Friday evening or Saturday morning, you’ve got the weekends too. When I went to India, I went for 4 weeks but on paper, I actually went for 17 working days or 2.5 weeks!

And how did I do this?

Over Easter and May Day weekend. And depending on the year, if the public holiday is in the middle of the week (like Xmas 2015) you can just take the Monday and Tuesday off and you’ve got the weekend on both sides anyway. That makes 9 days off but 2 official holidays.

Boom!!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" skiing at Rokytnice nad Jizerou - the Czech Republic!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” skiing at Rokytnice nad Jizerou – the Czech Republic!

If you live in Europe, everywhere is so close. Poland is 1.5 hours away from Berlin. Denmark about 4-5 hours. By car.

England is 1.5 hours away by plane. France, Greece, and Italy, are about 2-3 hours. Spain, Turkey, Portugal, Morocco, and Egypt about 3-4 hours.

By train, the sky is the European limit. As for coaches or buses, we travelled all the way from Finland for all of €50, and we didn’t die!

In short, distance isn’t an issue.

You can fly, take the car, train, bus, sail, or even cycle! Europe is great for the bicycle. If cash is short, camping is available all over Europe, as well as bunkhouses, hostels and couchsurfing for absolutely free!

if you’re nervous about couchsurfing, you can book your hotel here!

My family & I in Thailand - All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.
My family & I in Thailand – All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.
  • We’re comfortable. We’re middle-class. Just like you.

What do I do?

We save, budget and plan how much we can reasonably spend.

It took us 2 years to save for our Asia trip, and so our budget in Asia was €100 per day. We spent about €850 for a flight from Berlin-Bangkok-Bali-Berlin each. We spent about €150.00 flying around in Asia itself each rather than taking the rickety all night train, and we spent between €18 per person for a lovely wooden chalet in Thailand and €70 per night for a complete house in Bali! We were there for a month.

  • Book ahead.

Far ahead!

And as for Poland, I paid €26 per night for the lovely floor-heated-free-WIFI-on-the Baltic-Sea double room!

If the budget is “reasonable” then use B&B’s, pensions, and small or budget hotels.

Book your hotel here!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" with the Pearly King in London.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” with the Pearly King in London.

If you’ve got the cash. Go for it. Plenty of wonderful places in which you’ll be treated like royalty!

  • We keep our eyes open and go on various mailing lists. Just like you.
20 years of EasyJet flying!
20 years of EasyJet flying!

So go ahead and register with airlines and transport corporations that you like, and as many as you like.

Register with hotel and hostel brands that you like. They always have special deals and discount offers for their members. I once flew to Krakow with EasyJet for free! And why? Because I was on their mailing list and it was a new destination.

If you’re travelling miles apart, book ahead and take a plane.

It’s generally not worth travel hacking within Europe as flights are so cheap, and destinations are short.

If money is an issue, there are plenty of no-frills, low budgets airlines available to you such as EasyJet and the like. If you book ahead, fares can be as little as €4.99, sometimes less!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" taking to the sails in Mardorf.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” taking to the sails in Mardorf.

You can also go by boat and sail away onto the sea which is exactly what we did when we went to Finland!

In many cases, trains are cheaper than planes if you book ahead, and certainly in Germany, children under 15 years old are completely and utterly free! We travelled to Budapest from Berlin which was a thirteen (13) hour train journey and it only cost €69.00 for myself and my boy. First class!

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

Keira Knightley on the passenger train in Poland!
Keira Knightley on the passenger train in Poland!

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!

  • Be creative with flexibility! We have school and jobs. Just like you.
Just because you have a fixed job, doesn't mean that you can't look for an adventure!
Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t look for an adventure!

Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible. If you’re looking for an adventure. Use skycanner and go for “anywhere” within your budget and then go on the airline’s own website.

It pays to be a little flexible if you can. You don’t have to limit yourself. You don’t even have to make up your mind. Use your home-base as a starting point and then go for “anywhere” and just keep trying out different destinations until you’re happy with it, or the location is within your budget.

Go to Eastern Europe instead of Western Europe.

Go to South America instead of North America.

Go to Wales instead of England.

Or not.

Don’t choose. Go where you want to go.

If you're American, and you only feel comfortable visiting other American cities, that's alright too!
If you’re American, and you only feel comfortable visiting other American cities, that’s alright too!

If you live in North America, I know that it’s more complicated. However, if you’ve worked hard, don’t feel guilty. TAKE your holidays and USE them for your own pleasure. Don’t paint the porch. The porch can wait.

Go to that place that you’ve always wanted to go to. Do the road trip. Fly to Argentina.

If you feel more comfortable staying in North America, then stay in North America. North America is an amazing destination and so beautiful. I’m not here to guilt trip you. It’s your holiday.

If you feel more comfortable, going on a package tour. Go for it.

If you feel more comfortable travelling with the whole family. It’s your call.

Book your hotel here!

Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
  • Don’t forget to ask. We love a bargain. Just like you.

Ask for discounts. Ask for a bigger room. Ask for an included breakfast. Ask for WiFi. Ask for an extra bed. Ask for free parking. Ask about children prices, student prices, “elderly” prices, corporate prices, even regional or local prices. If you’re from “there” let them know. You never know. If you don’t ask, they can’t help you, or reduce the prices.

Ask, and ask again.

Being a British European means being widely travelled.
Being a British European means being widely travelled.

As far as international relations is concerned, last year was a disaster so I’m taking part in bringing the world together as part of a Pledge to Travel campaign.

I’m going to #ExploreMore2017. You should too.

It doesn’t matter if it’s “only” 2 months, 2 weeks, or 2 days. Just know that you can afford to travel. You can have it all.

I'm a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin - © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I’m a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin –
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…..Where am I going in 2017?

Drum roll pleeeeease!

Travel plans this year are:

Romania
Romania
  • Romania
  • The Czech Republic
Croatia
Croatia
  • Croatia
  • France
Lake Bled in Slovenia
Lake Bled in Slovenia
  • Slovenia
  • Holland
Sweden
Sweden
  • Sweden
  • England
Russia
Russia
  • Russia
  • Poland
The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland. Again! Ho! For the the luck of the lovely Irish!
The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland. Again!
Ho! For the luck of the lovely Irish!
  • Ireland for TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference)
  • Austria
Austria
Austria
  • And of course, Germany! Ho! Ho! Ho!
Beer for everyone in Germany 'cos the drinks are on meeeee!
Beer for everyone in Germany ‘cos the drinks are on meeeee!

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure. I live in Germany which many consider to be an expensive Western nation.

I can afford a life of travel and a comfortable Berlin lifestyle.

I choose to have it all.

HOW I CAN AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL. DON’T CHOOSE. HAVE IT ALL! BUT YOU HAVE TO TAKE ACTION TO GET IT!!

I pledge to travel and to share others how to do so too! #ExploreMore2017
I pledge to travel and to share others how to do so too!
#ExploreMore2017

This article is not sponsored, and the thrilling countries that I’m going to visit in 2017, are my very own!

It’s January. Well, hello there!

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 British Shorts Film Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017.  Save the Date!

At the beginning of  January, I’ll be going to Holland, and at the end of it, I’ll be skiing in my favourite place, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, in the Czech Republic!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, you’re missing out!

January is going to be spectacular!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don't choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!
How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!

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 can afford a life of travel. Don't choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!
How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!

Do you have any travel plans for 2017? Join me and let me know where you’re going to #ExploreMore2017!

See you in Berlin.

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

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

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

The last week has been extremely stressful!
The last week has been extremely stressful!

The last week has been extremely stressful, and we have the awful outcome of the Brexit Referendum to thank for that, and by all accounts, it isn’t a pretty story.

The Prime Minister – David Cameron – handed in his resignation. So did Boris Johnson.

The leader of the Labour Party is struggling to keep his head, Scotland and Northern Ireland are talking loudly about secession, and the pound lost a third of it’s value, and has never been lower!

The idea of BREXIT is gloomy and frightening.
The idea of BREXIT is gloomy and frightening.

The idea of BREXIT.

Is.

Frightening.

And.

Totally Awful.

But let me be clear.  I’m still British, and I’ll be British to the end.

A potrait of William Shakespeare.
A potrait of William Shakespeare.

Yes, those losers voted for Out. But they’re not my people. They’re not the British people that I know.

And.

They don’t represent me.

The people who voted for Remain ARE my people. And even though we lost the Referendum. We haven’t lost our spirit.

I’m proud to be British.

Berlin - very British - rbb
Berlin – very British – rbb

Being British has never been about self.

Being British has always been about supporting the common good, the underdog, freedom and fairness.

I may not agree with the verdict, but it’s democracy, and that vote has been taken, and so we must bear the consequences.

It’s true that I have the luxury of a double nationality if I so wish, and I have the right to do so.

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

I have lived in three European countries as an expat, and each nation has been left better off than when I found it. They have benefited not only from my expertise, but also my money.

I am the British Berliner.

I’m a strong advocate for Europe and I will keep on advocating. Here’s why:

10 REASONS WHY BEING A BRITISH EUROPEAN IS A REALLY GOOD THING!

10 reasons why being a British Eurpean is a really good thing!
10 reasons why being a British European is a really good thing!
  • Being a British European means that you can learn a second, third, or fourth language:
Being a British European means that you can learn a second, third, or fourth language!
Being a British European means that you can learn a second, third, or fourth language!

Living in Europe means that you get to learn another language. Our son – “The Tall Young Gentleman” – speaks German, English, Spanish, and a bit of Chinese, although he would actually like to learn Japanese! My husband – The Music Producer – speaks German, English, Latin, and a bit of French. Myself – The British Berliner – well, I speak English, German, a bit of a Czech, a bit of Polish, and a weeny bit of French, although I would like to learn Hindi or Mandarin!

Now of course, the reality is, if you’re an Anglo-American expat and your native language is English, you don’t really need to but… And this is a huge but.

If you want to be truly a part of your new country, it helps if you try. They appreciate it.

  • Being a British European means being widely travelled:
Being a British European means being widely travelled.
Being a British European means being widely travelled.

I have been to 30 countries in Europe, 10 countries in Asia, 6 countries in Africa, 2 countries in North America, 1 country in South America, 1 country in the Middle East, and 5 dependent islands.  In 2014, I travelled to 10 countries, in 2015, I travelled to 11 countries. That makes a grand total of 55 countries and 5 continents!

I love re-visiting countries that I like, and so in 2016 I returned to Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and England of course!

In the summer, I’ll be travelling to 5 countries, and two of them will be new – Switzerland and Luxembourg – and in the Autumn, I’ll be in Asia again travelling to the Philippines, but open to China and Taiwan while I’m there, and trying to squeeze in France somewhere along the way lol!

Not too shabby!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, if you live in Europe (and that includes the UK), you have no excuse not to travel all around this beautiful continent.

While we still can!

  • Being a British European means free education:
Being a British European means free education. I prefer paper or hard back!
Being a British European means free education. I prefer paper or hard back!

In March 2016, I went back to England and attended the very dignified graduation ceremony for my MA Degree.

Yep!

I obtained an MA – Masters of Art Degree at the University of Chester.

In England!

My specialisation was in Education Management and Training. A bit like an MBA for teachers!

I am extremely pleased. And very proud!

My first degree was obtained at an elite university abroad, with a BSc. honours degree in Political Science! I then did a Master’s Degree at Durham University which is the 3rd oldest university in England!

I'm an MA graduate from the University of Chester. Whoopee!
I’m an MA graduate from the University of Chester.
Whoopee!

Now I’m a corporate inter-cultural life coach and an educational English language trainer and teacher in Berlin, as well as being an International Social Media Lifestyle & Professional Travel Blogger!

I love teaching and training others, and that is why I wanted a second Masters Degree. I might even go for a Phd sometime in the future. Who knows?

And I paid thousands of pounds for that esteemed and elevated education. And so did my parents!

In European schools and most European universities, you don’t pay a single penny.

Not a single penny!

Being a British European means free education at the Humboldt University, in Berlin!
Being a British European means free education at the Humboldt University, in Berlin!

Of course, you pay student union fees and probably for transport (student discount of course), but no school fees!

The point I’m trying to say is that education is free to all.

Our son used to go to an international school and we paid just €6,000 a year! He now goes to an elite school for scientists – and we don’t pay a cent!

In a few years, he’ll be off to university, and the money that I would have saved will go to his exchange year abroad, when he’s 16 years old, and his GAP year-around-the-world, when he’s 18!

  • Being a British European means excellent healthcare:
Being a British European means excellent healthcare.
Being a British European means excellent healthcare.

In the UK, the NHS is free of charge but there’s a hell of a lengthy queue and as a result, many people have opted for private care. On the continent, your health card will cover you in every European country, there are no fees to be paid, medication is subsidised, and healthcare for children is absolutely free!

Lat year, I went skiing in the Czech Republic and became enormously ill, but I didn’t have to pay for anything, except for prescription drugs that cost me all of €13.00!

Being a British European means tolerance on sexual orientation, and exploring your sexuality.
Being a British European means tolerance on sexual orientation, and exploring your sexuality.

There I said it. SEX. If you’re an adult. Yes. You. Can!

I wrote a post about this a few years ago, and it was based on another post that hit a nerve and got lots of people very upset!

There are many advantages to living in Europe. People fought for a right to choose their own way of living.

We’re liberal.

We can choose without eyebrows raising.

We can marry or not marry.

Be single or in a relationship.

Be committed or be free-loving.

Have a lover or have a million lovers.

Being a British European means tolerance on sexual orientation, and exploring your sexuality.
Being a British European means tolerance on sexual orientation, and exploring your sexuality.

Be gay, straight, bi-sexual or transsexual.

Have children or have none.

And isn’t that the point?

CHOICE.

  • Being a British European means parental leave for both genders:
Being a British European means paternity leave for both genders - All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park in Thailand!
Being a British European means parental leave for both genders – All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park in Thailand!

Germany gives both genders, the right to parental leave, for up to three (3) years. As do many other European countries! Either gender or both, can stay at home to look after their children.

When our son was born, I stayed at home for a year, and my husband stayed at home for the other two!

We were also entitled to a home water-birth (which I took) and a girl who came in and did the cleaning and shopping for a fortnight (two weeks), all paid for by my health insurance!

The child benefit is generous as the state would like people to have more children, sadly most of us either have “an only child” or none at all.

Ah well!

  • Being a British European means having a holiday and using it!
Being a British European means having a holiday and using it - Turtles in the Philippines!
Being a British European means having a holiday and using it – Turtles in the Philippines!

Europeans take their holidays and vacations seriously, and they’re not afraid to use them! You get a minimum of 24 holidays per year (by law), and between 11-15 public holidays on top of that. That makes 35 days.

You are also allocated breaks and if you’re ill during your vacation, you’re entitled to get those days back! Even I didn’t know that, until last year when I was so ill on vacation, I couldn’t ski. But when I contacted my company, they’re were great, and when I contacted my health insurance, they were fantastic, and gave me the complete week back again!

  • Being a British European means free or cheap access, to sport and exercise:
Being a British European means free or cheap access to sport and exercise
Being a British European means free or cheap access to sport and exercise

In the summer, most Europeans are out and about, either on holiday / vacation, out of the city, or on their bikes. It’s great. Everyone does things outdoor.

In Berlin, it’s so green that you would hardly know that you’re in the capital city of Europe’s strongest economy, and one of the largest countries in the European Union. And if you didn’t already know, Berlin is a river-city too!

In fact, 44% of Berlin is covered with parks, forests, fields, rivers, lakes and canals, and Berlin has about 30 beaches and 960 bridges, which is far more than the ever romantic city of Venice!

I mean, thirty (30) beaches!

So is it any wonder that water activity is an important aspect of living in Germany. As well as mountains, hiking, fields and beaches.

I’m quite lazy but in the last three years, I have done tango dancing, hip-hop, skiing, a little bit of horse-riding, tai-chi, Broadway Musical dancing classes of “Chicago” – that was a killer! And a bit of ballet.

I would like to go back into ballet again. Eeeeek!

  • Being a British European means cheap and available public transport:
Being a British European means cheap and available public transport.
Being a British European means cheap and available public transport.

As you know, I don’t drive, although my husband does, and in only a few years, our son will too!

And it hasn’t been a problem!

I use other alternative means of getting around. And living in Europe makes that extremely easy to do so! I can, and do love using the train as you can spread out, you can read, you can walk about, and you can take as many suitcases as you want (within reason of course)!

I also love flying and flying within the EU is a doodle, as everywhere is just so close by.

And if you’re really short on cash, taking the coach or bus, is not a problem as nowadays, they’re as fully equipped as planes with wi-fi, flat-screens, free drinks, and everything!

If you’re as romantically inclined as I am, then go ahead and take a ferry cruise, or go the whole hog, and cruise around Europe instead!

  • Being a British European means a work / life balance:
Being a British European means a work / life balance.
Being a British European means a work / life balance!

I don’t need to tell you how important this is.

So how did I do it?

Well, if you look at my About Me page, you will see that I’m married, I have a husband, a tween child and a very nice corporate job, as an inter-cultural life coach, educational English language trainer and teacher in Berlin, so if you need help with anything, just let me know lol!

And I have this wonderful lifestyle, travel, expat blog!

In short, I live a normal life. Just like you.

I’m married, in a relationship with someone, or have been single. Just like you.

I have family responsibilities. Just like you.

I have a full-time job. Just like you.

And so I get smart. And work things around family life, and I have an understanding German husband to thank.

10 REASONS WHY BEING A BRITISH EUROPEAN IS A REALLY GOOD THING!

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

I’ve always been a supporter of Germany – my adopted country – and I’ll continue to do so.

I’m a strong advocate for Europe and I will keep on advocating.

I’m the British Berliner – a British European.

And I’m proud of it!

I'm the British Berliner - a British European. And I'm proud of it!
I’m the British Berliner – a British European.
And I’m proud of it!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the wonderful things associated to living in Germany, and being a British European, are my very own!

Next week, I’ll be writing about Berlin Fashion Week!

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.

The Lesbian-Gay City Festival will take place from 16.07.16 – 17.07.16.

CSD on the Spree (River) will take place on 21.07.16.

Dyke * March Berlin will take place on 22.07.16.

Our main Gay Pride Day otherwise known as Christopher Street Day (CSD), will take place on 23.07.16.

The Berlin Chapter of Travel Massive and Terminal 3, will be hosting True Stories. Told Live. Digital Nomad Style as part of the Tech Open Air Festival on July 14th, at Spielfeld Digital Hub.

I’ll also be attending an Exclusive Food Tour with Fork & Walk on Wednesday, August 10th.

Save the Date!

July is going to be flamboyant!

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 excitement!

Watch this space!

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

Is being a British European a jolly good thing, or utterly rubbish`? What do you think? Have your say?

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

Oranges & Lemons say the Bells of St. Clement’s. Say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!

Oranges in Spain!
Oranges in Spain!

So the last few weeks, I told you about our trip to Madrid, but did I tell you that we went to Seville too?!

Seville!

Ah Seville!

Let me just say that our visit to Seville was the first of its kind!

I know!

We were lucky then that one of our blogger friends KemKem and her Italian husband from – Next Bite of Life – very kindly offered to host us while we there.

Thank you so much guys!

The "Tall Young Gentleman" on his birthday, in Spain. Gosh! He's 14 now. Yikes!
The “Tall Young Gentleman” on his birthday, in Spain.
Gosh! He’s 14 now. Yikes!

When travelling to destinations, I don’t make it a part of my trip to particularly follow a festival, on the other hand, I have followed a piece of Art around the world, but that’s another story..!

In this case, not only was it during the birthday of “The Tall Young Gentleman” who happened to be 14 years old (proud mum here!), but it also happened to be the Easter holidays too.

Now I’m not particularly religious, but the people of Spain are, and we happened to be in Seville right slap in the middle of a most important festival.

That festival called Semana Santa, otherwise known as Holy Week or Easter!

But firstly, let’s talk a little about Seville!

SEVILLE IN GLORIOUS ANDALUSIA!

In the middle of the Old Town in Seville.
In the middle of the Old Town in Seville.

Seville is the capital city of Andalusia and was previously known as the Roman city of Hispalis although, according to legend, Seville was founded by Hercules!

Seville has a population of about 703,000 people and is the fourth (4th) largest city in Spain! It’s Old Town is marvellous and is an area of only 4 square kilometres but has three (3) UNESCO World Heritage Sites namely: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.

On the bridge at the Plaza de España in Seville!
On the bridge at the Plaza de España in Seville!

Seville is a river destination leading to the Atlantic Ocean and in fact, is the only river port in Spain! It’s a beautiful city deriving its exotic nature from its Moorish roots and the trans-atlantic trade after the discovery of the Americas, art, literature, and architecture, and the Spanish Golden Age.

I’d always known that Seville was a place of history, but I had no idea how much interest and importance Seville had, and this was revealed by our friends.

They took us on a private tour of a hidden place called the Italica Archaeological Complex.

THE ITALICA ARCHAELOGICAL COMPLEX

Jumping high at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
Jumping high at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

Wow!

I had no idea!

I had absolutely no idea that hidden in Seville was the first permanent Roman settlement in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, and the cradle of the emperor Trajan, who was born there in the year 53 AD, and his successor, Hadrian!

If I’d known that a Roman settlement was in Spain, I’d had gone to Seville much sooner!

Mosaics at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
Mosaics at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

I mean, my interest was piqued as I’m from Manchester – a Roman civilian settlement called Mancunium in 79 AD. I went to the University of Chester – a Roman fort called Deva Victrix in AD 79. And even my husband from Osnabrück, was born in a city which successfully won the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest against the mighty Roman army, in 9 AD!

It was surely meant to be!

In the gallery of the Amphitheatre at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
In the gallery of the Amphitheatre at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

The Roman city of Italica was established in 206 BC for the soldiers injured in the Battle of Ilipa, and soon became a city of capital importance between 206 BC and 138 AD, after the reign of that most significant Roman emperor – Hadrian – of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England!

The Italica represented the majesty of the Roman city, clearly visible in the layout of its’ streets, and its’ public and private buildings, which were integrated into an exceptional landscape that was Roman town planning.

All roads eventually, lead to Rome!
All roads eventually, lead to Rome!

Even as a little girl, I had always been impressed by the ingenious of the Romans, and the Italica was no exception!

I mean, there was a Roman amphitheatre, the fully existing tiles of quite a few Roman baths, Roman streets, Roman courtyards, even a House of Birds and a Planetarium.

Astounding!

WHAT SHALL I DO IN THE “OLD TOWN” OF SEVILLE?

 

At the Cathedral in Seville.
At the Cathedral in Seville.

Sadly, we only had three (3) days in Seville and so on our last day, we spent all day and pretty much most of the evening, in the Old Town of Seville. And this is what we did:

  • Use public transport: Our friends lived in the suburbs of Seville, so we took the underground metro into “town.” It was pretty easy to use so we bought one way tickets costing just €1.60 each.
Rafael from Pancho Tours in Seville.
Rafael from Pancho Tours in Seville.
  • Join a free walking tour: I’m a sucker for free walking tours as well as paid tours…! so we contacted a company in Seville called Pancho Tours. Our guide was called Rafael and he was great and rather funny! When it comes to free walking tours, I have my favourites, but it’s always good to mix and match so that everyone gets a free chance, and as many local people as possible, get our custom!
  • Learn about the history of Spain.
  • Go gaga at the fact that Seville has not one (1) but three (3), UNESCO World Heritage buildings!
  • Visit the official tomb of Christopher Columbus, or so they say….!
Drink up. You don't want to be dehydrated!
Drink up. You don’t want to be dehydrated!
  • Drink! Seville is a hot place!
  • For goodness sake, wear a hat and cover yourself with suncream! I’m dark-skinned, but even I wouldn’t mess about with the sunshine!
  • Go all romantic and hire a horse and carriage. Oh go on! You know you want to!
  • Visit the Cathedral.
Hire a horse and carriage in Seville. Go on! You know you want to!
Hire a horse and carriage in Seville.
Go on! You know you want to!
One of the many gorgeous churches and chapels in Seville!
One of the many gorgeous churches and chapels in Seville!
  • Admire the many churches and chapels in the city.
  • Take lots and lots of photographs!
  • Go swimming in the Guadalquivir River.
Hire a rowing boat.
Hire a rowing boat.

 HOLY WEEK IN SEVILLE!

Jesus at Easter. In Seville.
Jesus at Easter.
In Seville.

If you’ve never seen a group of people, in hoods, and walking all over town, you’re in for a shock!

I observed this personally, when I first visited Spain, many, many years ago.

I’m not American. I’m British, but I’ve seen the films and read the history of the atrocities of slavery. And believe me, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw all those hooded parades, and people were smiling and playing instruments!

I was shocked!

The Catholic Brotherhood at Easter. In Seville. I was shocked!
The Catholic Brotherhood at Easter. In Seville.
I was shocked!

So this time around, I wasn’t in the least surprised, still slightly uncomfortable mind, when I observed a whole array of hooded people in Seville. In a variety of colours. Some of them children. And many of them members of the Spanish priesthood! I even saw a few of them queuing up to take a bus!

All of this, was a result of Holy Week.

GOLLY! WHAT’S HOLY WEEK ALL ABOUT THEN?

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!

Well, Holy Week or Semana Santa in Spain, is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ, celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town, during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter.

Phew!

The celebration of Holy Week regarding popular piety, relies almost exclusively on the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities, stemming from the late Middle Ages (1350), to date. Think the Illuminati, Free Masons, etc. Membership is open to any Catholic person, and family tradition is an important element to become a member or “brother.”

Holy Week in Seville is known as Semana Santa de Sevilla and is one of the city’s two biggest annual festivals, the other being the Feria de Abril (April Fair), which follows two weeks later.

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!

Semana Santa de Sevilla features the procession of pasos, floats of life-like wooden sculptures, scenes of the events of the Passion, and images of the grieving Virgin Mary. Some of the sculptures are of great antiquity and are considered artistic masterpieces, as well as being culturally and spiritually important to the local Catholic population.

Members of the brotherhood can be recognised by the distinctive cloaks and hoods of each procession. The ones we saw had tunics and hoods with conical tips, that were used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. Most of the robes tended to be purple, black and alarmingly, white!

Historically, the robes were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity.

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla! © Peter Turnley/Corbis.
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
© Peter Turnley/Corbis.

After exploring Seville, we noticed a high number of Spanish people smartly dressed and full of excitement.

The women were wearing black dresses with a mantilla which is a black lace, silk veil or shawl, that is worn over the head and shoulders, in a high comb called a peineta, and black shoes. All the men wore suits and even the children were smartly dressed, with practically every girl wearing a Sunday Best dress, tights and shiny patent shoes, and almost every boy wearing a suit, a tie and suede shoes. Honestly, it reminded me of my old independent private school uniform!

We decided to follow them.

They led us back into the centre of Seville where practically every road and side-street was closed to traffic. Chairs were lined across the roads, screens were put up, and TV cameras and stages were set.

Why not climb up the Cathdral Tower, in Seville?
Why not climb up the Cathedral Tower, in Seville?

We wanted to climb to the top of the Tower for the sunset view, but due to security, everything had been closed down, police officers were everywhere, and if you hadn’t got a ticket, you wouldn’t be allowed into the cathedral.

However, I managed to sneak in with the flow of the congregation, and observe a little bit of the ceremony and service, before it got too crowded!

The atmosphere was electric, and the streets were buzzing.

Candles for the procession, at the church in Seville.
Candles for the procession, at the church in Seville.

At one point, we were on the front row of the procession and watched the brotherhood as they held candles and went barefooted, on the warm streets of Seville!

In centuries past, these people would also carry shackles and chains on their feet as self-punishment and penance!

It was all rather interesting but as it began to get dark, we decided to leave the locals to it.

Ah well!

 IS IT WORTH GOING TO SEVILLE?

The bells of Seville.
The bells of Seville.

The city of Seville has beauty, Arabic architecture and both Jewish and Moorish influences. It has brilliant weather and fabulous food. It also has a river to recommend it. And bells!

Seville is pretty awesome.

And you heard it here first!

Spanish monuments of yore!
Spanish monuments of yore!

This article isn’t sponsored and the fruity time that I had in Seville, is my very own!

In the summer I’ll be going to Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and possibly Russia!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on Britain!

Sometime between now and May 1st, I’ll be visiting the interactive exhibition Discover Mexico or Entdecke Mexiko taking place on Washingtonplatz. It’s free to the public. Go see!

On April 18th, I’m going to be interviewed by a German TV station, about the 5th wedding anniversary of our very own William & Kate!

On April 21st, Queen Elizabeth II will be 90 years old. Hurrah! Ra! Ra!

To celebrate this most prestigious event, I’ll be attending a Gala Show Celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday. A Dinner for the Queen performance at the Wintergarten Varieté in Berlin with the talented Jack Woodhead and “a hint of gin and tonic!”

It’s going to be ridiculously exciting, so you’d better hurry up and get your own ticket!

April 23rd will mark William Shakespeare’s birthday and the 400th anniversary of his death with a very special event – Shakespeare Live! From the RSC in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, hosted by David Tennant! There will be live broadcasting all over the world and Berlin is going to be one of the lucky cities. Yay!

On April 27th, I’ll be attending STRICTLY STAND-UP – The English Comedy Night Show!

I can hardly stand it!

Berlin is going to be so much fun, so if you’re in town, come and join us!

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you must be bonkers!

Watch this space!

Oranges & Lemons say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!
Oranges & Lemons say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!

Have you ever been to Seville? Would you choose an orange or a lemon?

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

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